The Second Chance Trio

While all the Red Wolves were hoping for a bowl bid, Charleston Girley knew his chance to return to the field depended on his teammates earning that post-season spot.

It was big for the junior from Pine Bluff who had worked his way into the starting position as the Red Wolves’ nickel back on defense. Girley’s last game was against Utah State, the Red Wolves’ third game of the season.

“I had torn ligaments on the top of my wrist,’’ said Girley, who made 17 tackles in the 3 games he played. “The thing about is if I had waited any longer it would be non-repairable so I had to have immediate surgery to repair the wrist.”

But Girley is not alone. The GoDaddy allows the Red Wolves’ to regain the services of defensive back Rocky Hayes and linebacker Quanterio Heath.

After missing the final 9 games of the regular season, Girley had his sights on an early January date in Alabama.

“This is great,’’ he said. “When I first got hurt I found out I would be out for the rest of the season. I was heartbroken so to be able to get a second chance and come back and play in the bowl game it is very exciting. I knew this game was the last bowl game and would be a late date and would give me plenty of time to get out and get back so I was grateful for the opportunity.

Everything is good. I practiced full pads last week and everything was going good. My conditioning was a little bit down but we have worked on that.”

Coach Blake Anderson admitted the injuries took a toll on the team.

“For all we have been through, with all of the injuries it is something to look forward too,’’ said Anderson. “We are going to have some guys for the first time in a long time. And as much as anything a celebration of what this senior class has been through.

“We lost firepower with bodies going down. They didn’t lose focus they kept playing.”

For Hayes, a junior from Heflin, Ala., the bowl not only means a return to his home state and his third straight bowl game at A-State, but also a chance to play again. He went down and missed the season finale against New Mexico State.

“I’m just excited to get back out there with my boys; Sterling and Q Lee in their last game at A-State. It is just a blessing to get out here and play again. You don’t really understand it until you are on the sidelines sitting out and watching from the outside looking in. I am just trying to embrace this moment, embrace this bowl and embrace the experience.

The atmosphere on the campus was people wanted us to go to a different bowl but I understood that I needed to come here to be the full Rocky and make the plays I want to play. But I am glad we are here and I am 100 percent again. I’m just ready to play ball.”

Heath, a redshirt sophomore from Rison, was the backup to Lee, who played most of the season injured, at middle linebacker. He played in six games and made 12 tackles.

“It feels pretty good, not knowing if I was going to be able to play or not,’’ said Heath. “The doctor told me it was going to be an end game for me but God works in mysterious ways. I was able to come back and go out and get to play with my teammates.”

Injured in the Georgia State game, Heath suffered a dislocation of the wrist and torn ligaments in that area.

“I’m excited to be back,’’ he said. “I haven’t been on the field for a couple of months. It is going to feel good. We’ve got one more shot to play and I’ve got one more chance to get on the field.”

The Red Wolves face Toledo in the GoDaddy Bowl In Sunday at 8 p.m.