Grant Surprises UA Coaches With Speedy Recove

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sometimes, Arkansas free safety Michael Grant needs to be reminded that it's OK to take a break in practice.

After all, he's only five months removed from reconstructive knee surgery and there is no reason for him to take part in every practice drill. "He wants to get in every drill," Arkansas safeties coach Chris Vaughn said. Grant has made a surprisingly speedy return from a severe knee injury suffered in a 26-20 win at South Carolina on Nov. 4. In fact, his recovery has gone so smoothly this spring that Arkansas' coaches have had to occasionally check with the team's athletic trainers to make sure that the senior is not doing too much in practice. "I knew I was going to try and do something for the spring, but I didn't think I would do as much as I did," Grant said. "After the first day (of practice), I knew I was going to be able to do everything because I felt real good. But before spring, I didn't expect to do this much." The fact that Grant has been able to practice, let alone run with no problem and work with the first-team defense during noncontact drills, has surprised Arkansas' coaches. They didn't expect him back so soon considering the severity of his knee injury. "Mike's rehab has been coming (along) awesome, better than we expected. He's coming off of (one of) the worst knee injuries the doctors said they've seen in a real long time," Vaughn said. "He just did that in (November), and now he's back running." Grant tore an anterior cruciate ligament and suffered a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament when he landed awkwardly during the nationally televised game at South Carolina. "What made it worse was it was on national TV, and everybody saw it," Arkansas assistant athletic trainer Eric Linson said. Grant injured his knee when he ran across the field and jumped for a loose ball near the end zone. According to Grant, he tore his ACL when he left the ground, and since he didn't have much support to brace his fall, he did more damage to his knee when he landed. Grant said he's seen footage of the play that ended his season, but he admits it's tough for him to watch it. "I saw it a couple of times, but I can't really look at it," Grant said. "It brings back memories because I remember when my leg got stuck (in the ground)." Before the knee injury, Grant had emerged as a consistent starter at free safety after being moved over from cornerback. He had helped fill a big hole in Arkansas' secondary, and as a former track star, he had the speed to make up ground when going against opposing wide receivers. But Grant had a hard time simply walking after the injury. He underwent reconstructive surgery 2-3 weeks after the South Carolina game, and he said he lost around 20 pounds during that time. But he looks just fine now. Though he hasn't completely regained his ability to change direction, Grant has had no trouble backpedalling in practice and staying with receivers. In fact, he said he feels he's even faster than he did before the injury. Linson said that the fact that Grant is a former track runner helped speed up his recovery. "He just knew how to run; he didn't forget how to do that even after the surgery," Linson said. "So I think a lot of (the credit) goes to his body." Tuesday was likely Grant's final practice of the spring. He is expected to miss today's workout because of class, and coaches have decided to hold him out of Saturday's Red-White spring game as a precaution. But based on what he's seen over the past three weeks, Vaughn is optimistic that his starting free safety will be ready in the fall. "If we had to play in a month, I think he'd be ready to go," Vaughn said. But Grant insists he could go even sooner than that. "I think if the season started today, I'd be able to play," Grant said. "But I'm expecting to be 100 percent come fall." On The Mend Arkansas free safety Michael Grant has looked impressive this spring while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in a 26-20 win at South Carolina on Nov. 4. And there are several other Razorback players who must try to return from severe knee injuries suffered either last season or this spring. Name Position Knee Injury Michael Grant Free safety Torn ACL Marcus Harrison Defensive tackle Torn ACL Freddie Fairchild Linebacker Torn ACL Matt Stoltz Linebacker Likely Torn ACL

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