There's a need for comfort in the aftermath of a devastating injury, particularly one that ends a collegiate career.
And comfort was exactly what Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker provided for his head coach following his season-ending knee injury against Missouri.
Isn't that all backwards? Isn't everyone else supposed to be providing support for the injured back?
Maybe so, but there was Whittaker on Sunday, barely a day removed from his catastrophic knee injury, telling Mack Brown, the 60-year-old coach still distraught over losing a football game, that everything was going to be fine. To pick his head up. To help the players move forward and get ready to face Kansas State.
Apparently senior safety Blake Gideon could have used a little bit of that moral support as well after tearing up during a media availability on Monday when asked about his fallen teammate and describing why Whittaker has made such an impact on his team:
He would lay down in the street for any one of us. The type of guy that he is ... the type of character that Fozzy has and what he will do for anyone one of us, that just shows you the type of person he is and why all of us think so much of him.
Heck, maybe the whole team needs that moral support that Whittaker provided Brown. After all, the Texas head coach called Whittaker the "heartbeat of the team" on Monday, with Manny Diaz, the defensive coordinator who doesn't even work with the Pearland product on a daily basis, saying that losing Whittaker was "like losing a part of your heart and soul."
Most Texas fans certainly felt that heartbreak and Blake Gideon was surely not the only one to have shed a tear for Fozzy Whittaker's collegiate career, even without personal exposure to those qualities that define Whittaker.
After all, that selfless act of comforting couldn't have come as a surprise to Brown:
He's a guy that takes negatives and turns them into positives, and he said there's a reason everything happens, Coach, and we'll make this work, too, and more forward, too. He is just a special young man and one that has given Texas a lot more than we've given him because he is a giver, not a taker.
Whittaker certainly hasn't lost any of his own heart during this trying process. After rebounding from numerous setbacks early in his career to earn a place as a productive fan favorite on the field, Whittaker could have been angry, sad, upset following his injury. He could have gotten caught up in any one of a dozen negative emotions after seeing all of his hard work torn apart upon the detachment of knee ligaments after planting in the Faurot Field turf.
Instead, there was Whittaker on Monday, as upbeat as ever, strong in his faith that everything will work out for him in the end. In fact, those injuries early in his career have helped fortify and strengthen Whittaker not only physically, but mentally as well:
At the end of the road, it only goes uphill. Having minor injuries before and seeing myself progress to the point I did before I got this injury only encourages me.
Speaking of encouragement, that's exactly what the resilient Whittaker will give his team on the sideline during games, in the film room between games, as he continues to provide the leadership and support that defines him as a teammate and as a person. And Brown didn't even have to ask Whittaker to know that he would be there:
It was kind of understood. He already knew the type of person I was. He knew I wanted to be at every game, home or away, and I wanted to be on the sideline helping the team.
He will also provide a rallying cry, a source of inspiration as the regular season winds down.
Offensive lineman Mason Walters has already done his best for Whittaker on the field, often leading his back into the hole on the Power play in the Wildcat that helped Whittaker achieve so much of his success this season. For Walters and the rest of the Longhorns, the rest of the season will be about honoring their teammate by playing hard on the field:
We have a cause in Fozzy. I am going to go out there and play my guts out for him.
That sentiment surely goes for every other player on the team, each of whom gave Whittaker a standing ovation on Sunday after learning that he was indeed done for the season.
It's a sentiment that the Longhorns will use in an effort to show the same determination and resiliency on the field that Whittaker has shown off of it ever since his injury.
In the end, it's the least they can give after Whittaker has given so much.