A Rebuilt Ford

After missing the last four games of the 2008 season and spring practice due to a neck injury, University of Arkansas sophomore safety Elton Ford (6-0, 215) was overjoyed to be back and practicing Thursday as the Razorbacks opened up 2009 preseason drills.

When it happened, Elton Ford knew he was hurt pretty bad right away, but didn't want to show it.

So after tackling Ole Miss' Mike Wallace, the true freshman from Alpharetta, Ga., got up and started walking off the field.

Not exactly an easy thing to do when the C-4, C-5 and C-6 vertebra in your neck are all messed up – or a "little fractured" as Ford put it.

"I didn't want to show that I was hurt," Ford said, "but I was and I knew something was really wrong."



Wrong enough that some thought Ford (6-0, 215) – who started eight games at free safety as a true freshman - might never be playing football again.

Instead while he did miss the last four games of the 2008 season and was unable to go through spring practice, he was back on the field Thursday as the first-team strong safety as the Razorbacks opened their 2009 preseason practice.

He was cleared two weeks after spring practice ended, after a long rehab.

"Sure, it crossed my mind that I might never get to play again, but I didn't let it stay there that long," Ford said. "I wanted to just start working to get back and play the game I love."

Doing that included a trip to the doctor for what could have been surgery. Instead the doctor told him he could wear a halo neck brace for the next three months instead.

"It was difficult having that brace on for three months, but it was much better than having to have the surgery," Ford said. "I just tried to make the best of it and my friends, my family and my teammates really helped me get through it."

He also tried to take the right mental, physical and emotional route to his recovery.

"I never gave up hope and I love this sport," Ford said. "I tried to do the things on and off the field in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community to have pride in being a Razorback."

Ford had 42 tackles (a team-high 10 against Florida) and one interception last season and was praised for his hard-hitting approach and aggressive style.

He was happy to be out at practice Thursday for the first time since October and made it clear that he did not have any plans to ease into things.

"No fear," Ford said. "I am still going 100 percent and nothing is going to slow down."

Ford had to play last year as a true freshman because of lack of depth, something that should not be a problem this season.

The Razorbacks will have Ford, Jerico Nelson, Anthony Leon, Matt Harris and Tramain Thomas and Jerry Mitchell on scholarships as safeties this season.

Walk-ons Seth Armbrust, Dusty Cain and Bobby Petrino – the Arkansas head coach's son - add additional depth.

The cornerbacks will find junior college newcomer Rudell Crim (who will begin at corner but could play safety as well) to go along with Ramon Broadway, Issac Madison, Jerell Norton, Andru Stewart, Greg Gatson and true freshmen Darius Winston and David Gordon.

"We really have a great group of guys and a lot of talent that is going to push each other and make us the best we can be," Ford said. "It's really a great deal for our football team."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories

\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWrong enough that some thought Ford (6-0, 215) – who started eight games at free safety as a true freshman - might never be playing football again.

\r\n\r\nInstead while he did miss the last four games of the 2008 season and was unable to go through spring practice, he was back on the field Thursday as the first-team strong safety as the Razorbacks opened their 2009 preseason practice.

\r\n\r\nHe was cleared two weeks after spring practice ended, after a long rehab.

\r\n\r\n\"Sure, it crossed my mind that I might never get to play again, but I didn't let it stay there that long,\" Ford said. \"I wanted to just start working to get back and play the game I love.\"

\r\n\r\nDoing that included a trip to the doctor for what could have been surgery. Instead the doctor told him he could wear a halo neck brace for the next three months instead.

\r\n\r\n\"It was difficult having that brace on for three months, but it was much better than having to have the surgery,\" Ford said. \"I just tried to make the best of it and my friends, my family and my teammates really helped me get through it.\"

\r\n\r\nHe also tried to take the right mental, physical and emotional route to his recovery.

\r\n\r\n\"I never gave up hope and I love this sport,\" Ford said. \"I tried to do the things on and off the field in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community to have pride in being a Razorback.\"

\r\n\r\nFord had 42 tackles (a team-high 10 against Florida) and one interception last season and was praised for his hard-hitting approach and aggressive style.

\r\n\r\nHe was happy to be out at practice Thursday for the first time since October and made it clear that he did not have any plans to ease into things.

\r\n \r\n\"No fear,\" Ford said. \"I am still going 100 percent and nothing is going to slow down.\"

\r\n\r\nFord had to play last year as a true freshman because of lack of depth, something that should not be a problem this season.

\r\n\r\nThe Razorbacks will have Ford, Jerico Nelson, Anthony Leon, Matt Harris and Tramain Thomas and Jerry Mitchell on scholarships as safeties this season.

\r\n\r\nWalk-ons Seth Armbrust, Dusty Cain and Bobby Petrino – the Arkansas head coach's son - add additional depth.

\r\n\r\nThe cornerbacks will find junior college newcomer Rudell Crim (who will begin at corner but could play safety as well) to go along with Ramon Broadway, Issac Madison, Jerell Norton, Andru Stewart, Greg Gatson and true freshmen Darius Winston and David Gordon.

\r\n\r\n\"We really have a great group of guys and a lot of talent that is going to push each other and make us the best we can be,\" Ford said. \"It's really a great deal for our football team.\"

\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"When it happened, Elton Ford knew he was hurt pretty bad right away, but didn't want to show it.

So after tackling Ole Miss' Mike Wallace, the true freshman from Alpharetta, Ga., got up and started walking off the field.

Not exactly an easy thing to do when the C-4, C-5 and C-6 vertebra in your neck are all messed up – or a \"little fractured\" as Ford put it.

\"I didn't want to show that I was hurt,\" Ford said, \"but I was and I knew something was really wrong.\"

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWrong enough that some thought Ford (6-0, 215) – who started eight games at free safety as a true freshman - might never be playing football again.

\r\n\r\nInstead while he did miss the last four games of the 2008 season and was unable to go through spring practice, he was back on the field Thursday as the first-team strong safety as the Razorbacks opened their 2009 preseason practice.

\r\n\r\nHe was cleared two weeks after spring practice ended, after a long rehab.

\r\n\r\n\"Sure, it crossed my mind that I might never get to play again, but I didn't let it stay there that long,\" Ford said. \"I wanted to just start working to get back and play the game I love.\"

\r\n\r\nDoing that included a trip to the doctor for what could have been surgery. Instead the doctor told him he could wear a halo neck brace for the next three months instead.

\r\n\r\n\"It was difficult having that brace on for three months, but it was much better than having to have the surgery,\" Ford said. \"I just tried to make the best of it and my friends, my family and my teammates really helped me get through it.\"

\r\n\r\nHe also tried to take the right mental, physical and emotional route to his recovery.

\r\n\r\n\"I never gave up hope and I love this sport,\" Ford said. \"I tried to do the things on and off the field in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community to have pride in being a Razorback.\"

\r\n\r\nFord had 42 tackles (a team-high 10 against Florida) and one interception last season and was praised for his hard-hitting approach and aggressive style.

\r\n\r\nHe was happy to be out at practice Thursday for the first time since October and made it clear that he did not have any plans to ease into things.

\r\n \r\n\"No fear,\" Ford said. \"I am still going 100 percent and nothing is going to slow down.\"

\r\n\r\nFord had to play last year as a true freshman because of lack of depth, something that should not be a problem this season.

\r\n\r\nThe Razorbacks will have Ford, Jerico Nelson, Anthony Leon, Matt Harris and Tramain Thomas and Jerry Mitchell on scholarships as safeties this season.

\r\n\r\nWalk-ons Seth Armbrust, Dusty Cain and Bobby Petrino – the Arkansas head coach's son - add additional depth.

\r\n\r\nThe cornerbacks will find junior college newcomer Rudell Crim (who will begin at corner but could play safety as well) to go along with Ramon Broadway, Issac Madison, Jerell Norton, Andru Stewart, Greg Gatson and true freshmen Darius Winston and David Gordon.

\r\n\r\n\"We really have a great group of guys and a lot of talent that is going to push each other and make us the best we can be,\" Ford said. \"It's really a great deal for our football team.\"

\r\n\r\n\r\n
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