TEMPLE — As the Wildcats practiced in upper body pads on Wednesday, Chad President donned a T-shirt, shorts and a black brace on his right knee as he tossed passes alongside his teammates.
“He’s got plenty of time,” coach Mike Spradlin said with a jocular smile, as President laughed.
About 4½ months after verbally committing to Baylor, the junior quarterback
tore his right ACL while making a cut against Southlake Carroll in Waco on Sept. 13.
While the four-star recruit is out for the season, he rehabs six days a week, exercising his upper body and quadriceps during his school’s athletic period, before throwing, pedaling a stationary bike and using Nintendo Wii after school and repeating the gamut of workouts at home with help from his dad.
If he continues his diligent and disciplined routine, President could be cleared for play in March.
“I’ll probably just be patient and let everything get right in my knee,” he said.
President ditched his crutches six days after surgery on Sept. 28, and said the only pain he feels is a slight tightness while doing leg lifts.
Temple athletic trainer Windee Skrabanak introduced President to quad extensions on Wednesday.
She tied a life-sized, athletic rubber band to a post, as President put his right foot in its loop and moved his leg in all directions.
“Ain’t no pain,” he said coolly.
not that bad at first
After the injury play, President casually stood up. As he walked to the sideline for the next play call, he was surprised as he felt his right leg wobble.
“I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “It just felt like nothing was in my knee, like nothing was holding up my legs ... I was just like, ‘Dang. It can’t be that bad because I’m not laying down.’”
After the trainers iced his knee, he stood up normally and walked with little pain, but fell down when he tried to run.
At halftime, trainers told President his right knee was looser than his left.
The next day’s X-ray showed a bone bruise. Two days later, surgeon Dr. Bill Hamilton pointed to the MRI results.
“It was like a black spot,” President said. “(The doctor said), ‘That’s where your ACL’s supposed to be. Your ACL is obviously not there. We’re going to have to do surgery.’”
After losing all range of motion following surgery, he can now bend his right leg to a 90-degree angle, and is working toward touching his heel to his posterior, which would indicate complete radial movement.
President had a good range of motion before surgery, which should help prevent ligament atrophy, Skrabanak said.
While his knee pain dissipates daily, President weaved through an onslaught of emotions the week after the diagnosis.
“It was very emotional that week,” he said. “I felt like I really couldn’t do anything.
“You know how a young teenager thinks. You think your career is over when it’s really not.”
support from everywhere
Encouragement from his pastor, doctors, blood family, football family and Baylor coaches has overwhelmed and reassured President about his comeback, he said.
He calls Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery about once a week, he said. Montgomery has told President that Baylor is still committed, and has also raised the prospect to President of a breakout high school senior year.
Baylor associate athletics director for communications Heath Nielsen confirmed that Bears coaches are still recruiting President for the 2015 season, but declined to comment on recruiting specifics, citing NCAA regulations.
Spradlin said early commitments, like President’s, protect recruits from losing colleges’ interest.
“His injury is strictly an ACL tear,” Spradlin said. “It’s all good. He’s getting well and he’s going to come back. There are too many stories now for kids to think it’s a career-ender.”
rival extends best wishes
In a show of sportsmanship, representatives from rival Belton gave President “get well” cards and snacks before his surgery.
And Spradlin regularly throws playful, warm-hearted jabs to President.
“Every time I come over, he’s like, ‘Quit limpin’,’” President said. “He’s really supporting me a lot. He comes in the training room after I’m doing my rehab ... keeps pushing me with progress and trying to get better and everything. He’s just sitting there, saying, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’ He just keeps pushing me.”
Skrabanak said President, one of three Temple athletes currently with an ACL injury, has shown initiative throughout his recovery.
“He definitely has a go-getter attitude about everything,” Skrabanak said. “He’s really on pace. He’s really working hard. He comes in three times a day. We never have to go find him.
“He’s always there ready to work. Very eager.”