A tremendous season in eight-man football by Tennessee School for the Deaf’s Rashard Witherspoon was rewarded when he was named a First-Team All-American by Deaf Digest Sports.
It is the second consecutive year that Witherspoon has been named an All-American.
The junior all-purpose player was used at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and safety for the Vikings and was the featured punt and kick returner.
“He (Witherspoon) was mainly our leader and knew he had a huge amount of responsibility to carry a great amount of knowledge for playing several different positions for our team,” TSD coach B a r r y Swafford s a id . ” I could ask him to change his position at any time during the games for our necessities and also to confuse our opponents.” Opponents had to be confused, since there was no spot on t he field the Vikings wouldn’t use Witherspoon . On offense, Witherspoon rushed 62 times for 422 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished with 172 yards and five touchdowns through the air and caught a 32 yard touchdown pass.
TSD had to rely on Witherspoon and he delivered.
“Since we lost our franchise, two-year All-American quarterback, Ethan Swafford , to graduation , I mainly used Rashard as a quarterback ,” Swafford said. “The players respected him. They knew he was our franchise player. They would worry when Rashard got hurt or pulled out of the game for a rest. They were willing to pave the path for him, just because they knew he wouldhelp them win.” On defense and special teams Witherspoon was just a s prolific. Witherspoon picked off a pass, returned two punts for touchdowns and three kickoffs for touchdown s , two coming in just one game. Witherspoon is a special athlete that plays basketball and runs track as well. He was a natural fit for t he football team and the coaches used him immediately, even as a freshman .
“Two years ago we noticed his agility skills, speed and good hands,” Swafford s a id . ” For his freshman year, I decided to put him in every game as possible to build his confidence and the next year I started him as a running back/wide receiver.” Witherspoon has made an even bigger impact off t he field , mentor i n g younger players and serving as an example, in practice, in games and in the classroom .
“Off-field , he is one of the campus’ well-liked students and he helps other players with their needs,” Swafford said. “He also is very sensitive and very helpful, especially, with our special-needs students.” Witherspoon’s high school football story isn’t over. Swafford is just as excited to see what his senior year has in store.
“We are fortunate to have him playing for us,” Swafford said . ” Without him, we would be in a deep trouble of executing our plays on offense and making tackles for our defense. For me, he is very coachable and I do enjoy teaching him different positions, just because he adapts so well. We do look forward to have him play for us once again next year.”