Just a few short months ago, Rashad Wisdom clocked out of work one night, and like most teenagers, almost immediately reached for his phone. Among his numerous notifications was a tweet from San Antonio-area football development specialist Calvin Robertson. This was much more than a typical tweet, though — it was an invitation to be a part of something, a challenge to help construct the foundation for something yet to be built in San Antonio.
From an idea came a tweet, and from that tweet came the formation of 210Savage, San Antonio’s first elite 7-on-7 travel team.
“I got tagged in it so I just said if y’all are really talking about it, let’s do it,” said Wisdom, a rising three-star safety out of San Antonio-area powerhouse Converse Judson.
Within a matter of days, with Wisdom extending the same invitation he received, the message reached and resonated with handfuls of the top talent San Antonio has to offer.
What was nothing more than a mere idea just months ago had since placed Wisdom and fellow Judson standout Sincere McCormick on the same field as Spring Branch Smithson Valley quarterback and Houston pledge Levi Williams, Cibolo Steele cornerback Xavier Player, San Antonio Madison wide receiver Dante Heaggans, and Alamo Heights linebacker Maki Carabin, among a variety of others.
However, such a commendable collection of home-grown talent was still without a national name — something essential for the heights Robertson aspires to reach with 210Savage.
John Jay field general Jacob Zeno filled that void.
Currently the most highly-recruited talent in the area with offers from Georgia, Florida, Baylor, Arkansas, and Arizona, among others, Zeno eyed the opportunity to serve as a headliner and bring heightened exposure to a city largely deprived of the spotlight, briskly buying into the vision Robertson and “The Savages” were selling.
“After [Robertson] hit me up, I said I’ve got to do that because San Antonio gets slept on a lot and me being a high-profile recruit, me playing for my home team can bring a lot of attention to the city,” said Zeno, a four-star prospect per ESPN.
Zeno’s sentiments perfectly portray the entire purpose of 210Savage.
Sure, it’s just a 7-on-7 team, but it’s also much, much more than that. For the young men sacrificing blood, sweat, and countless hours behind the scenes, it’s an opportunity to provide a much-needed platform in a city from which talent — sports or otherwise — is often deprived of desirable exposure and thus, departs for Dallas, Houston, or Austin.
Robertson and 210Savage wanted to break the mold that continues to encase the city, even if only by keeping the home-grown talent at home, so they’re doing exactly that.
Rather than taking their talents east on I-10 in search of the spotlight shining on Houston powerhouses FAST or KB3, just to name a few, or north up I-35 to Austin or Dallas, Power Five prospects such as Wisdom and Zeno preferred the newfound opportunity to help San Antonio attract some semblance of that attention currently centered around other cities in Texas.
In fact, before the opportunity to suit up for 210Savage presented itself, Zeno’s 7-on-7 responsibilities were with FAST Houston. When Robertson reached out, though, Zeno took the road less traveled, even if it meant departing from the increased exposure that FAST provides.
“At first, I was pretty hesitant about it because I’m playing with high D1 guys every week, but after the first couple practices, I just fell in love with it,” Zeno said of his decision to walk away from FAST Houston, one of the most recognized 7-on-7 teams in the nation. “Coach Calvin and his guys, they really love us.”
But why side with uncertainty at such a critical point in their recruitments?
“Just to start the movement and put on for the 210 instead of going to Houston or something and looking like I’m representing for them when I’m really for San Antonio,” said Wisdom. “We all came from the same city so why not start it up for us when these Houston and Dallas dudes are doing the same thing. Why can’t we do the same?”
Tyrin Smith, a considerably underrated wide receiver out of Cibolo Steele, echoed Wisdom’s wishes.
“I feel like we need to make our own name for ourselves in San Antonio. We’re so slept on so we’re just trying to show that Houston and Dallas can do it, but so can San Antonio,” Smith said. “We just gotta wake them up.”
In hopes of waking the masses up, though, the current crop of 210Savage talent is, to an extent, risking their own personal exposure in hopes of rewarding future classes — 2020, 2021, and beyond — with the platform and publicity that’s currently unavailable to much of the talent in San Antonio.
Take in the sights at a 210Savage practice and you won’t see scouts scattered around the sidelines, nor will you see reporters from any prominent publication.
It’s not as if the talent isn’t in place to draw that type of attention.
At least eight 210Savage standouts — Zeno, Wisdom, McCormick, Williams, Player, Heaggans, Carabin, and Judson linebacker Kevin Wood Jr. — are headed for Division I football, with the group owning upwards of 60 offers. Others such as San Antonio Central Catholic cornerback Hilario Gomez and San Antonio Wagner cornerback Javon Barnes will likely join that list by the time National Signing Day arrives, as may others.
“I feel like that talent we have on this team can get the word out about San Antonio that it’s not a game out here,” McCormick said of 210Savage’s goal to bring more exposure to San Antonio. “We’re out here trying to make a difference and finally showcase that we’re something special out here.”
To an extent, the Rivals 3 Stripes Camp in March provided that opportunity, and it was one that 210Savage left its fingerprints all over, as Zeno and Wisdom walked away with the camp’s quarterback MVP and defensive back MVP honors, respectively.
“It just starts showing everybody and waking them up that maybe there is something going on down here that people need to start taking notice to,” Wisdom said after he and Zeno earned Rivals’ 3 Stripes Camp MVP recognition.
Not surprisingly, it’s notable names such as Zeno, Wisdom, and McCormick who are leading the way for what they hope becomes a 7-on-7 destination for San Antonio’s top talent.
“Having guys like Jay Zeno, Rashad [Wisdom], Sincere [McCormick], they’re just leaders, Robertson said. “Having leaders like that lead a team and be the foundation of something... It’s really cool to see that grow.”
And it is growing.
Just weeks ago, Steele cornerback Chace Cromartie became the latest to buy into the vision in hopes of building a brand in San Antonio.
“I would just like to make San Antonio a landmark in Texas, just like major places such as Houston, Dallas, and Austin,” Cromartie said of joining 210Savage. “San Antonio is slept on as a whole for football talent. There is a lot of talent on that team and the more eyeballs on us and the more we are known, the bigger it can get.”
Of course, for a budding brand, the quickest path to success would seemingly feature top talent from around the state, but that doesn’t align with the mission statement of 210Savage. Rather, Robertson aspires to build a 7-on-7 power in San Antonio, and do so with exclusively San Antonio prospects.
“A lot of teams are these mercenary teams; they’ll grab a player from here, from there and from there, and just play on game day. But what we’re doing here is we want to create a community where we grow and become better football players,” Robertson said. “Just create a community within San Antonio and set the standard for what football training should be for the next 5-10 years.”
To that end, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Sure, as is, 210Savage boasts its fair share talent, but in a San Antonio metro area with roughly 2.5 million people, there’s an abundance of riches to be had if the city’s top prospects come together on one field. Once the 2019 offseason gets underway, Robertson will be tasked with replacing Zeno, Wisdom, McCormick and other 2019 prospects, and he’s aiming to replenish his roster with other local talents he missed on this time around. Robertson said names that come to mind include Schertz Clemens linebacker Derrick Lewis, Steele wide receiver Daniel Jackson, and rising Steele star defensive back Jaylon Jones, who currently competes with KB3 Elite.
When that time comes, Zeno urges San Antonio talent to buy into what Robertson is selling, calling what 210Savage has to offer “genuine.”
“These coaches really love you and really care about you, and they want to see you succeed,” Zeno said. “With 210Savage, you’re going to get that.”
If Robertson and his current roster can convince future classes to remain closer to home, as opposed to heading to Houston, Dallas, or Austin, what can 210Savage ultimately become?
“I think it can become the standard of what a good community can bring and giving back to the community, not just with football, but using football as a platform to build a better community,” Robertson said. “I’m hoping this becomes the standard in 7-on-7 and youth development in San Antonio and South Texas.”
However, for Robertson to say The Savages want to become the standard in San Antonio and South Texas is being modest. Admittedly, although it’s still in its infant stages, Robertson envisions 210Savage becoming a household name, not only in the region, but across the entire state of Texas, similar to the platform FAST, Team Texas Elite, and KB3 currently enjoy.
“I tell my players every day, why not?” Robertson asked with an apparent excitement echoing in his voice. “Why not San Antonio? That’s the mentality our players have and I feel that that’s starting to really shine with some of these bigger names and it’s going to trickle down to some of the other guys.”
And it has trickled down. From top to bottom, Robertson’s inaugural roster believes it can be the one to not only prove to that public that San Antonio’s football soil is just as fertile as what media and scouts flock to in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, but provide proof to the top talent in the city that by staying home, San Antonio can be viewed in that same light.
Of course, that’s not the case just yet, and The Savages feel that San Antonio’s name alone, and how it’s perceived, has much to do with that lack of limelight.
“We all have a chip on our shoulder. It feels like people roll over us because of our city name, and that sits pretty bad with us,” Zeno said, which is a sentiment that echoed across the board, from McCormick to Smith to Cromartie to Wisdom. “We’re just on a smaller stage, city-wise,” Wisdom added. “But this isn’t going to be a one-time thing and then it’s going to be done. We’re coming to make a name for ourselves and we’re not going to keep getting slept on like we’ve been doing.”
“We’re all dogs out here. We all put in the work and make sure that we’re not stepped on out here,” said McCormick.
Just a few short months ago, this was all nothing more than a mere idea in Calvin Robertson’s mind. From that idea came a tweet, and from that tweet came the formation of 210Savage. As if it isn’t clear by now, though, 210Savage wasn’t put into place to simply add another name to a 7-on-7 market seemingly monopolized by mega-squads featuring talent from around the entire state. For Robertson, Zeno, Wisdom, McCormick and the rest of 210Savage, the mission in mind is to not only provide a platform for the city’s top prospects but to prove that San Antonio can hold its own with entirely home-grown talent.
Prior to the past few months, that opportunity wasn’t present, and if a prospect desired exposure, there was no choice but to head outside of the San Antonio area.
210Savage changed that.
“Don’t sleep on the 210,” Robertson proclaimed. “We’re coming.”