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At most of America's colleges, Brad Wilford '00 would be the undisputed Big Man on Campus.
He'd date the head cheerleader, drive the reddest Corvette in the parking lot, and wear his varsity letter jacket to sleep each night--all while pulling straight As.
He is, after all, the football team's starting quarterback.
But this is Harvard. Here, barely 5 percent of the student body can identify Wilford without his jersey, and most of his classmates scoff at the notion of a "Big Man on Campus."
Who has the time to follow football anyway?
If they took the time, Harvard students would see a bunch of hard-working guys whose schedules are just as hectic as theirs: balancing practices, meetings and classes. And no one handles it better than the starting quarterback.
Instead of having a fall schedule packed with lectures, problem sets and student group meetings, Wilford spends his time reviewing game films, practicing with the team and finding time to study. Along the way, he's accomplished something many Harvard students have not--he's found a way to get it all done without much sweat.
Wilford prides himself on being more relaxed than your high school's starting quarterback ever was. He enjoys taking late breakfasts of pancakes and eggs and says one of his most important goals is to get eight to 10 hours of sleep each night.
To hear Brad Wilford tell it, being a starting quarterback at Harvard is the greatest job in the world.
As a first-year, he says, he was overwhelmed by the strain of keeping up with both classes and practice.
"I had a real tough time with how much time we spent with football," he says.
Quarterbacks have it the toughest, arriving at practices up to an hour before the rest of the team to watch game films and meet with coaches.
His grades suffered.
"I pulled a lot of all-nighters. Maybe once or twice a week I just wouldn't go to sleep at all," he says.
He was hoping to do a double concentration in applied math and economics, but it didn't take long for those plans to fall by the wayside.
"If I wasn't playing football, I'd be more inclined to have tried to stick it out," he says. "But it was real tough to find time to go to office hours and work on the stuff that I was struggling with."
So instead of attempting to juggle vector spaces, marginal demand curves and football practices, Wilford dropped his mathematical aspirations and concentrated solely on economics--and football.
But football hasn't always been willing to return the favor. Although he shaved down many of his academic goals to play, he spent his first three years as the second-string quarterback.
This fall, however, Head Coach Tim Murphy turned to Wilford to assume the starting role. It was Brad's team--and he was "the man." The pressure on him increased tremendously.
A Day in the Life
For the past three falls, Wilford has only taken three classes during the football season and makes up the difference by taking a grueling schedule of five classes each spring.
"I just do that to lighten the load and help me focus a little bit more on football," he says.
So after grabbing a quick lunch, usually with his teammates, Wilford heads down to the Dillon Field House for practice.
Wilford begins his day of practice in a 1 p.m. meeting with Quarterbacks Coach Jay O. Mills. Mills talks about changes to the team's game plan, and points Wilford toward important game films. Wilford usually watches anywhere from two to six hours of game film each week.
Next, he heads to the trainer's room, where his ankles are taped up for the afternoon's practice. He watches film until 2:30 p.m., when he joins the team's other quarterbacks for their daily meeting.
At 4 p.m., three hours after Wilford's arrival at the field house, he joins the rest of the team for practice.
The workout, which lasts until 6, is "not very demanding at all, physically"--or at least according to Wilford--since quarterbacks do not take hits.
There may be another meeting or two, then Wilford hits the showers and makes a mad dash to catch the last lemon-grilled chicken breast at dinner by 7:15. If the entire team is held up, Harvard Dining Services keeps Annenberg Hall open until about 8 p.m.
With a weary body and a full stomach, Wilford gets his first chance to crack the books at around 8:30 p.m.
" I have a little list of things I need to do [each night]," he says. "If I have an assignment due tomorrow, I'll get that done. I hang out with my friends, do some e-mail, call my parents."
He relaxes with his Nintendo 64 and by watching WWF's "Monday Night Raw" with his roommates, who include tailback Chris Menick '00 and linebacker Jeff Svicarovich '00. Wilford is quick to point out that his schedule is not extraordinarily stressful by any means.
"It's definitely not any tougher of a schedule than anyone else in this school," he says. "I think it's pretty easy, actually."
Working for the Weekend
Even the evening after the game is not entirely carefree for Wilford, because he knows he'll have to get out of bed in time for a Sunday full of team meetings and more practice.
Monday is the team's only day off, and Wilford spends it as any true Harvard quarterback would--catching up on homework and getting a head start on those game films. On Monday nights he puts in more than three hours of work at the desk of the Gordon Track and Tennis Center.
And when he gets up on Tuesday morning, it's time to start focusing on next Saturday's opponent.
A quarterback's work, it seems, is never done.
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