What did Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper do during his brief break from chemotherapy? He got back to slinging touchdowns.
The redshirt sophomore, who has a treatable form of testicular cancer, was surprised by head coach Dino Babers when he was inserted into the spring scrimmage for the last drive of the game. The result? A 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ravian Pierce.
Prior to the scrimmage that took place in front of 2,036 fans, Coach Babers told Culpepper there was no way he was going to play.
But, after giving it some thought, Babers called his name and the crowd roared as soon as he stepped onto the field.
“It just felt surreal,” Culpepper told Syracuse.com after the game. “It was spectacular. I’ll never forget that.”
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) April 14, 2018
Culpepper was diagnosed with testicular cancer on March 18. He had surgery a day later and was then prescribed 10 weeks worth of chemotherapy. He begins a second five-day, 25-hour treatment session on Monday, so he’ll use Friday night’s energy to get him through.
“I just feel like I’m really going into it like it’s a prize fight and this is Round 2,” Culpepper said. “I worked out, I practiced and this time I’m more ready for it.”
The quarterback expects to finish treatment on June 1, and return to fall practice.
Culpepper has had an incredible amount of support during his fight. In fact, teammate Nolan Cooney, a kicker and holder, went through nine weeks of chemotherapy four years ago to treat testicular cancer.
“He’s been monumental to me because doctors, they don’t tell you the true nit grit of what you’re going to feel,” Culpepper said in early April, “so he and I have been on the phone, hanging out, and he’s helped me through this.”
And, if all goes according to plan, Culpepper will be ringing the bell at Upstate University Hospital cancer center, indicating he is cancer-free and firing up that arm for more touchdown passes.