Menzie Heals Fast, Learns Fast
Last spring Dequan Menzie had finished a football workout at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. He felt a little twinge in his foot, but didn't let that stop him from taking part in some basketball play that night. "I messed it up," he said. "It hurt real bad."
What Menzie had done was rupture his Achilles tendon, an injury that can end an athlete's career.
"It was a disaster," Menzie said. "I never thought I would be back so quickly, because it takes a year to recover from it. But with the trainers and coaches pushing me to do it, and God, I got back out there quick."
He said his doctors were "amazed. They were surprised, really surprised.
"I'm a fast healer, a quick healer."
He's also a fast learner.
"I ain't touched a basketball no more," he said.
Menzie said after the surgery that the doctors didn't put a time-frame on when he would be able to play football again. "They left it open-ended," he said. "They really didn't think I was going to play this year. I really never thought about it, either. I thought I was redshirting.
"But I was back in three or four months."
DQ, as he is known to his teammates, said the rehabilitation process was difficult. And, he said, "Once you're off [working out] a couple of months, it's hard to get it back because the muscles have to all come back.
"Now I'm fine. There's a little tweak now and then, but other than that I'm fine."
He said he had to work on his conditioning and he is "close to 100 per cent and ready to be 100 per cent. Like Coach (Saban) says, you have to get to 100 per cent so you can rep more than 60 or 70 plays in practice."
Alabama lost three cornerbacks to the 2010 NFL draft, making Menzie a target for Alabama recruiters. At Copiah-Lincoln, the Columbus, Ga., native was a junior college All-America. He was named the most valuable defensive back in Mississippi junior college play.
At Alabama he is playing cornerback, but is particularly used in nickel back situations as the "star" in Alabama nomenclature. "It doesn't matter to me where I play," he said. "I'm going to give 100 per cent."
In the first two games for number one ranked Alabama, Menzie has been in on seven tackles and broken up one pass.
He could see a lot of action this weekend. Duke is expected to have primarily a passing offense when the Crimson Tide goes to Durham. Bama and Duke will meet at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. central time) in Wallace Wade Stadium with television coverage by ABC.
It is reasonable to expect Bama to be primarily in nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six defensive backs, or five defensive backs and a linebacker playing in coverage) against the Blue Devils.
"I think every game is a pretty big game for us," Menzie said. "I think everybody we play is good."
Although he agreed that most opponents won't be expected to throw the football as much as Duke is expected to, Menzie said, "Throwing the ball, running the ball. I'm going to be there regardless."
And he said he and his defensive teammates would be prepared, just as they were prepared for Penn State to be a running team last week.
"There isn't really a big transition," he said. "We go against our offense in practice and they pass. We're just prepared. We're prepared."
Menzie's position coach is Tide Head Coach Nick Saban. Menzie said, "Nick Saban's defense is hard. I'm going to tell you that straight up. It's hard. It's really hard. But if you buy into what they say, how to do it, you're going to get it."
Menzie, 6-1, 195, has had more ailments than just recovering from his Achilles. In early camps he had a few nagging injuries. Earlier this week he missed work with a stomach virus. "I'm fine now," he said. He admitted he got frustrated at times during camp when he couldn't work full speed, but said "it didn't stop me from going out there and doing what I needed to do."
Menzie has stayed in touch with Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart since Menzie was leading Columbus Carver to the Georgia 3A championship in 2007. But as for recruiting, Menzie said, "My mom loved UA, so I came here."
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