AMES — Eli Rasheed is finding solace and strength in his work, but the Iowa State defensive line coach and his family were recently struck by tragedy with the death of his 21-year-old son in a traffic accident in Ohio.
“The one thing we mentioned when we were in Toledo was that we wanted to come back and keep things as normal as possible,” Rasheed said, “although it’s good days and bad days.
“You still have to get up and go to work. I expressed to my players the same thing. There’s a lot of guys in that room who’ve dealt with loss. You have to get back up and get back on your horse and continue on.”
Osha Southward died July 27, in Toledo when the motorcycle he was driving hit the vehicle traveling in front of it, crossed the centerline and was struck by an oncoming vehicle, according to local news reports. Southward bought the motorcycle earlier that day, Rasheed said.
“He was a strong personality, a free spirit,” Rasheed said. “The one thing I appreciate the last three months with him is I know he was putting God in his world, and he was doing things right. Working two jobs, and I’m proud of him.
“I know, that being said, that he’s made himself into heaven.”
Rasheed and ISU coach Matt Campbell both started at Toledo the same year, 2009, when Rasheed was the Rockets’ defensive line coach and Campbell the team’s run game coordinator. Campbell became the offensive coordinator in 2010 and the head coach in 2011.
Rasheed was on his staff the entire time and came to ISU when Campbell took the Cyclones’ job in 2015.
“Coach Rasheed has probably got one of the biggest hearts,” Campbell said last week, “and one of the greatest human beings that we’ve ever been around.
“That’s the one nice thing about being together as a staff for so long because you know how to rally around each other. I say sometimes football coaching families, it’s a cliché, the football family but in times of crises, I think that’s really when you see family come together, and we’ve been able to come together and we’re going to have to continue for a while to continue and support them.”
ISU has tried to rally around Rasheed in his time of need.
“We all come from different backgrounds,” senior defensive lineman Vernell Trent said, “but at the same time, we all can relate. We all have our struggles.
“There’s (over 100) players on the team, all these fans at Iowa State, all the staff, plenty of support.”
It’s support Rasheed and his family have felt in the immediate aftermath of their loss.
“From Coach Campbell and the rest of the staff, our players, have been awesome,” Rasheed said. “I had a talk with them this morning, really thank them, I appreciate them. It really means a lot to my family. We’ve got a great team. A great group of guys. A great group of coaches, and it means a lot to me.
“For all the Cyclones (fans) out there, too, I appreciate it. My family appreciates it.”
Rasheed addressed the team on Tuesday.
“I kind of shared my story and what I’m going through,” Rasheed said, “as far the challenge to my faith and trying to stay strong for my family. At the same time, I know death is going to happen. We’re on borrowed time, but the world continues on so you’ve got to get up and go to work the next day.”