Juan Day's senior season has not gone as planned.
The North Little Rock running back was Alabama running back Altee Tenpenny's backup as a junior last year, but committed to Arkansas prior to his senior season.
Day (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) was set to be the lead back for the Charging Wildcats and have the chance to focus on his final year of high school with his college decision behind him. But then he tore his anterior cruciate ligament Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.
"I figured that was going to be the case when it first happened," Day said after getting his MRI results in September. "I planted my left foot and felt it and then I got tackled by two guys."
To continue with the unexpectedness of his senior year, Day is recovering at a faster pace than the doctors thought he would.
"I got off crutches like two weeks later and it usually takes more than four weeks and I already have my motion back," he said.
"I'm just strengthening parts around me, like my calf muscles and my thighs. I'm doing a lot of leg press stuff and I'm starting to do pool exercises to get my full motion back."
Although no athlete wants to suffer a season-ending injury as Day did, he has continuously looked for the silver lining in an otherwise negative situation.
"It made me appreciate the game more," Day said. "The game can be taken away from you at any moment, so when you do play, you have to play as hard as you can.
"It helps me become more of a leader," he added. "Since I can't play, the only thing I can do is speak up and talk and try to motivate them. I usually don't do much of that, but it's the only thing I can do, now."
Day will join a crowded backfield at Arkansas next year, which should continue to feature Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. It could also include Korliss Marshall, who also returns kicks and practices at safety, speedster Nate Holmes and bruiser Kody Walker.
Still, Day said he will fit into the stable of backs and he is looking forward to seeing Bret Bielema continue to implement his system, as well.
"I see good things in the future," Day said. "I like how the offense is and I can see how it will develop in the future when we get our players in. I think it will be a good thing.
"Coach B basically runs a pro-style offense like ‘Bama and LSU," he added. "It just takes time. We already have a great class coming in and the next year, we have even more players coming in. So that's when I think we will turn it around."
Day will take an official visit to Arkansas in December, but said he is not sure on a date yet. He also said playing for the Razorbacks is a "dream come true" and he does not plan on visiting anywhere else.
Day's recovery ahead of schedule
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