James Johnson is a good kid trying to keep his head up these days. He's on crutches now with two knee braces strapped to his legs.
Johnson had his second ACL surgery last week. Because it's the second ACL surgery on the same leg, there were no more tendons in that leg to borrow for the surgery. Doctors operated on his "good" knee, too, to borrow the patella tendon from the stable knee to replace the torn ACL tendon in the other knee.
"It's kinda tough to get around right now," Johnson said as his father pulled his SUV onto the sidewalk at the Broyles Center to make the walk a bit shorter.
Houston Nutt hurts for Johnson, the potential starter at left guard before his surgery last week. Nutt left Johnson on the 105 list so he could be around the team the next couple of weeks in hopes that teammates could lift his spirits.
"I am really sorry for James right now," Nutt said. "You hurt for him because he's worked so hard for his chance and to lose it like this just before the start of workouts."
Johnson doesn't know when the knee was injured. It may be over one year old.
"The doctors think it's an old injury based on the scar tissue they found," Johnson said. "I was having some problems in bowl practices and then it was okay. I think I had built up the muscle around the ACL so well that there was suport and stability. Then, I had some trouble this summer and it seemed like cartilage at the time. But there was beginning to be some stability problems, too. The doctors knew there was cartilage trouble and alerted me before the surgery that the stability issue might mean ACL trouble, too. They were right."
Johnson used a redshirt season as a true freshman after battling back from knee surgery after his senior year in high school. So, he's used the redshirt season. He said he is thinking about asking the NCAA for a sixth season since it was a knee injury which kept him out as a freshman, too. He may or may not be granted the sixth season.
"Either way, I'm just going to keep doing what I was doing as far as school," said Johnson, already a college graduate and close to earning his Masters degree. "Heck, if the NCAA lets me come back, I may be the first to get three degrees. I'll start on my Phd next."
Johnson is one of the Hogs' most asked for speakers as far as community service. He has been to many area elementary schools as a spokesman for the reading program. He is also active in the Arkansas Athletes Outreach program.
Johnson Decked with Surgeries
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