Southwind’s Ri’Chard Broadnax destined to excel after two trying seasons at Westwood

STANDING HIS GROUND --- Ri'Chard "Mumu" Broadnax was the starting quarterback for Memphis Westwood High for the past two seasons before transferring to Southwind in December. Despite the Longhorns' 5-15 mark during that stretch, his talents didn't go unnoticed by college scouts. (Photos submitted by Tamika Broadnax)

STANDING HIS GROUND — Ri’Chard “Mumu” Broadnax was the starting quarterback for Memphis Westwood High for the past two seasons before transferring to Southwind in December. Despite the Longhorns’ 5-15 mark during that stretch, his talents didn’t go unnoticed by college scouts. (Photos submitted by Tamika Broadnax)

Ri’Chard “Mumu” Broadnax’s grandmother, Ruth Broadnax, wasn’t able to attend his football games when he played the past three seasons for Westwood High.

What he cherishes more than anything, however, is how she routinely enlightened him on the importance of demonstrating good sportsmanship.
Win or lose.
“I had a great relationship with her,” Broadnax told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I love her. She used to always joke with me about football. She’s said it’s not always about winning. She had a lot of challenges in her life.”
Sadly, Broadnax’s grandmother, who lost her sight years ago, endured an array of physical challenges in recent years, many of which resulted in her untimely death.
Ruth Broadnax died Christmas Day of respiratory heart failure. She was 57.
Her sudden demise, by all accounts, was a disheartening occurrence for Ri’Chard Broadnax, in large part because although his grandmother wasn’t physically able to watch him play, his competitive drive as an athlete evolved courtesy of her wisdom and guidance.
“I felt like I was in another world,” Ri’Chard Broadnax said of his grandmother’s death.  “To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about football then.”
Ruth Broadnax’s death weighed heavily on her grandson, considering he wasn’t performing where it mattered most — in the classroom.
“My grades were dropping,” he said. “I prayed. That’s all I could do. And I began studying alot because that’s what my grandma wanted me to do.”
Besides his grandmother’s passing, the holiday season was one that brought about an assortment of hardships for Ri’Chard Broadnax. Weeks removed from having witnessed Westwood endure its second consecutive losing season, he and his family sensed it was time to re-assess whether he should spend his senior season with a program in which losing had become the norm.
During his first full season as the Longhorn’s starting quarterback after he replaced the injured Trey Gilkey to a torn ACL, Westwood finished the year 8-3 and earned a postseason berth. However, the Longhorns went 3-7 this past season, a performance that, according to Ri’Chard Broadnax, put his talents as a rising signal caller in jeopardy of being overlooked by college scouts.
“Nobody was on the same page because we were letting our emotions get the best of us,” he said. “I struggled because we went 2-8.”

FAMILY AFFAIR --- Ri'Chard Broadnax's mother, Tamika Broadnax, lost her mother in April of last year. Such a transition didn't stop her from attending her son's games this past season.

FAMILY AFFAIR — Ri’Chard Broadnax’s mother, Tamika Broadnax, lost her mother in April of last year. Such a transition didn’t stop her from attending her son’s games this past season.

After weeks of assessing his future, Ri’Chard Broadnax and his family felt it would be best to transfer him to Southwind High, which finished the 2013 campaign with an 8-4 mark and advanced to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The move came weeks after Westwood’s season had ended in what undoubtedly was a rocky year for Ri’Chard Broadnax, considering his grandmother, Jeannette Jackson (his mother’s mother) had died eight months earlier of respiratory failure.
“I really wasn’t expecting to leave (Westwood),” Ri’Chard Broadnax said. “But looking at my future, I was like, ‘Is this best for me?’ So then when I looked back, Southwind has interest in me my sophomore season.”
So much, in fact, that the Jaguars coaching staff would routinely follow Ri’Chard Broadnax’s heroics via YouTube footage. With spring practices underway, the Southwind starting quarterback position appears to be an open competition. Because of Ri’Chard Broadnax’s speed and agility as a dual-threat athlete, he feels confident he could have an immediate impact for a team that will return the nucleus of it squad.
“It’s a whole different environment,” he said of the Southwind program. “I’m not used to having that chemistry of hanging out with your teammates and not arguing all the time. I feel comfortable in this environment. We’re like a family.”
Looking ahead to what figures to be an intriguing senior campaign at Southwind, Ri’Chard Broadnax’s main priorities is to implement the essential strides that will enable him to boost his stock among college scouts. He is scheduled to attend 7-on-7 camps at Ole Miss, Memphis, Alabama, and Oregon, among others. Among the schools that have expressed interest are Southern Miss and Alcorn State, both of which he expects to make official visits this Fall.
Now that things appear to be holding up comfortably for a kid who had to weather an array of hardships last year, Ri’Chard Broadnax relishes what he senses was the right move at the right time.
“(My parents) want me to stay on the right track and not get with the wrong crowd,” he said.
Familiar wisdom Ruth Broadnax had passed along to him long before she bid him a final farewell on Christmas Day.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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