FOXBOROUGH — Deatrich Wise, Jr. doesn’t look like your average rookie, particularly one that had to wait around until Day Three of this year's draft.
Maybe it’s his body type, a throwback look to something out of the 1970s, with knee braces and old-school arm pads. Maybe it’s the facial hair. Maybe it’s his deliberate manner with the media, waiting and thinking before he offers an answer.
Whatever the case, the 6-foot-5, 271-pound defensive end — a fourth-round pick out of Arkansas this past spring — has made a big splash early in his career with the Patriots. A team that was thought to be facing some issues when it came to getting after the passer, Wise has provided a spark for the New England defensive front. It’s a small sample size, but according to Pro Football Focus, in 34 pass-rush snaps, Wise has seven quarterback pressures (sacks, hits and hurries). It makes him one of the most productive pass-rushers in the league on a per-snap basis.
How did he get to New England? His football journey started, like many great stories, at home: He has familial roots in big-time football. His father, Deatrich Wise Sr., played defensive tackle at Jackson State, and also with the Seahawks, Saints and in the Canadian Football League. He’s had a sizable impact on Wise’s development, both on and off the field.
What follows is an oral history of Wise's quick ascension from an undeveloped prospect to one of the early surprises of the NFL season:
Deatrich Wise, Jr.: “(My father has) been the biggest influence in my life. He's my best friend, my hero, my dad. He's my physical, mental and spiritual partner. He helps me out with everything, whether it’s football, whether it’s not football. It’s everything. He always taught me how to conduct myself, taught me the ins and outs of football and he always shared his story of when he was drafted and his process through the league and it was an honor to have that and to share that with him today.”
Former Arkansas defensive line coach Rory Segrest: “His dad obviously had an instrumental role in his life. I met him early on, and he was the type of dad who stuck around after games and just wanted to meet and know who was coaching his son. He’s just a great man.”
Deatrich Wise, Sr.: “We have a saying in our house: Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy. If you learn to serve, you’ll be a better person. A better husband, father, friend, teammate. Just a better person.”
Wise attended Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, and on the field, made a name for himself early on as a defensive end. He recorded 113 tackles, including 12 for loss with 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and one blocked field goal in 2011 while helping Hebron High School into the state playoffs. He chose Arkansas over Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Arizona, Purdue and Wake Forest. When he got to Arkansas, he also found guidance from Segrest, a position coach who had spent several years in the NFL.