Brittany Tull has always believed in following through on something you start, no matter what the circumstances are.
So when California Golden Bears defensive end DeVante Wilson looked at her in the hospital -- an hour after she had given birth to their daughter, Avery -- and told her there was no way he was going to his Riverside Community College football game that day, Tull was bothered.
Wilson owed it to Riverside, his teammates and coaches, and especially himself to go to that game and play his final snaps as a Riverside Tiger, she told him. It was the last game of the season. The game didn’t start until 6 p.m. and if he left right then, he could still make the second half.
“My plan was that I was just going to miss the game,” Wilson said. “I didn’t want to leave my family, but everyone -- even my [now] fiancée -- was telling me that I should go finish my potential last game with my team.”
Wilson knew that she was probably right, because through most of their relationship she had been the voice of reason. So he went, accumulated three second-half tackles, and returned to the hospital.
“She’s a big reason why I’m here today because I was ready to give up,” Wilson said.
When Tull and Wilson met at Riverside during the fall of 2013, Wilson was in a low place.
He had been a three-star defensive end who signed with USC in 2011 only to spend his first two seasons on the sideline, first as a greyshirt and then as a medical redshirt. He felt like a bit of a “has been” -- the Southern California kid who didn’t pan out at the big-time school.
After leaving USC in March 2013, he went to Cerritos College before ending up at Riverside Community College, where he played two seasons.
When he and Tull began dating, it looked like he might not even make it two seasons at Riverside. Wilson had begun working as a security guard at private events in Riverside and Long Beach during his first season with the Tigers. In the spring of 2014, he considered quitting football altogether.
For a week or so, he stopped showing up to spring workouts. He told Tull, who had recently become pregnant, that he was just going to start working security full-time, leaving football and school behind.
“I just saw more in him. ... I felt like he was giving up on himself,” Tull said. “I felt like he was giving up on something that I knew he wanted to do.”
Tull convinced Wilson to get back to football and dive back into school. Following Avery’s birth and the end of his playing career at Riverside, Wilson eventually committed to Cal, putting him and Tull in close proximity to their Southern California homes.
Over the past year and a half, Wilson has been able to balance the time commitments of football -- school, tutoring, practice, workouts -- with the demands and joys of fatherhood. In March, when he proposed to Tull, he added wedding planning to that mix.
Once he's done with Pac-12 media days in Burbank, he’ll head back to the Bay Area to meet with Brittany and finish up the planning -- cake tasting on Saturday.
On July 25, Wilson and Tull will get married, shortly before kicking off Wilson’s final fall camp of his collegiate career. Tull says this is the man she imagined Wilson could be when they met, even though he might not have seen it in himself. And whether it’s on the day of their child’s birth or midway through a tough season, she’s the person who’s going to be urging him to finish what he started.
“When you love somebody you want more for them then sometimes they want for themselves,” Tull said. “It’s natural, so I don’t know how to explain it.”