Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus shines while playing for late father

MADISON — This season the University of Wisconsin football has had a relatively inconsistent passing game. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been up and down, tight end Troy Fumagalli and wide receiver Jazz Peavy have been in and out of the lineup with injuries, and freshman wide receiver Danny Davis has been learning on the fly. The most consistent part of the air attack has been sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus.

Cephus entered the season with very limited experience and an extremely tumultuous offseason in which he had to deal with the murder of his father, Andre Taylor, last April. Understandably, there have been difficult moments for him, just as there are for anyone who loses a loved one unexpectedly.

“My teammates have been there for me through the season, through all my trials and tribulations,” Cephus said. “My coaches, everybody, have always been a shoulder for me to lean on. I’m thankful to be where I am and to have the people around me that support me.”

While he’s been able to lean on teammates and coaches for support mentally and emotionally, the offense has been able to lean on him at times as well.

“I’m just pumped for him,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “Quintez busts his tail, and he gives everything he possibly can with a smile on his face and great energy. I think a lot of things are coming his way and I love it. I think he’s got a great heartbeat to what this offense needs to be. I love his energy and I love what he’s bringing to this offense and this team.”

So far on the season, Cephus has put up the best receiving numbers on the team for the Badgers. He’s made 23 grabs for 401 yards and five touchdowns in the first six games of the season. Everything he’s doing this season comes with a heavy heart and his late father on his mind.

“Any time I make a good play or a bad play I want to make him happy. Either way it goes. He’s always with me. Any moment whether it’s good or bad I’m always thinking about him.” Cephus said.

The Badgers are sitting at 6-0 for the first time since 2011 and are currently ranked fifth in the AP Top 25. Cephus has played a big role in that success, and it’s something he thinks his father would be proud of.

“It’s crazy to think about, but I know he would be really excited for me. He would probably be talking about me right now if he was here,” Cephus said. “[Despite] everything that’s has happened to me, as I pray and talk to God, I think things are going to work out for me. As long as I keep working hard and have faith, I think things will continue to be great for me.”

Before deciding on Wisconsin as his destination to play football, Cephus was actually committed to Furman to play basketball. The Macon, Ga., native loves LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and still has passion for the game of basketball that almost led him to the hardwood rather than the gridiron.

“I was about to go there [Furman],” Cephus said. “I was committed and signing day was coming. At the last second I wanted to come here and I know my dad wanted me to come here and play football. I felt like that was the right decision for me.”

Cephus made a decision that not only the Badgers are happy with, but one that honors his late father as well.