As a dedicated husband, father, student and teacher — in addition to being a Division I college football player on a team with national aspirations — Wadley doesn’t have time to slow down, let alone stop.
He rises before the milkman and, depending on the time of year, drives 30 minutes to Jacksonville for workouts, goes back home to help get his 3-year-old ready for preschool so his wife can get ready for work and then it’s off to do his student-teaching. At the end of the school day, he goes to practice with the Gamecocks, returning home just in time to eat and see his little one off to bed.
“It’s just a lifestyle, kind of how I’ve lived,” he said. “I’ve lived back and forth, here and there, my whole life. It is what it is.”
Outsiders might not understand Wadley’s demanding schedule, but the JSU players and coaches marvel at and appreciate the way he manages to keep it all together.
“He was a grown man when he was 12 years old,” JSU coach Jack Crowe said.
And Wadley, a senior preseason All-OVC pick at defensive tackle, appreciates their understanding. The structure football brings has helped him master personal responsibility and time management.
“They’ve helped me out a lot,” he said of the coaches. “I probably wouldn’t be able to do it anywhere else if they weren’t that understanding.
“But at the same time, they’re understanding because when I’m out here I’m busting my tail for them. ... I’ve been very accountable for them since I’ve been here, so I guess in return and in respect for what I’ve done for them, they’ve always helped me out.”
It also helps to have a supportive family. Wadley met his wife Jessica while he was a freshman in high school and they married in 2007. Daughter Cali was born during his first year at JSU, and the family is expecting another in February.
During the season, Jessica and Cali are at all the home games. They were in the stands during last week’s open scrimmage, with Cali bouncing around the field when it was over in her JSU cheerleader outfit.
Wadley has a big “Cali” tattoo scripted on his left bicep, and when he starts feeling down, he looks at it for inspiration.
“My little girl, she’s a huge fan of football,” he said. “She wouldn’t know what to do without it, I don’t guess. She’s there, and she’s loud and cheering the whole time every game.
“That’s really neat that she has the chance to see me do what I do. Not many people can say that their kids got to watch them play football period, and she actually understands. They’re memories I’m sure she’ll have for the rest of her life.”
Wadley figures it’ll get easier in time. In the meantime, he will continue to keep finding ways to keep all the balls in the air.
“I don’t really worry about it right now,” he said. “Sometimes you want free time, but I know it’s all going to pay off some day. I’ll have free time eventually. It’ll come one day.”