Downer Not Overthinking the Situation

CLEMSON – As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. And that's certainly the case with Clemson tight end Cole Downer, who is poised to return to action Saturday after having his spleen removed six weeks ago in an emergency operation.

In his case, he figures the less he knows, the better.

"I'm not trying to learn things (about the injury) because maybe it will make me more cautious," he said Tuesday night after practice. "So, I don't want to know all that stuff. …

"That's one thing that I really haven't asked about, the questions of what if this happens or what if that happens. I really haven't had much interest in that. If they said I could play, then I'm going to go out and play."

Tigers coach Tommy Bowden as admitted that he's a little nervous as to what might happen when Downer takes his first big hit. However, Downer isn't the least bit concerned.

Offensive coordinator Rob Spence said he has no qualms with using Downer and that he won't hold anything back in calling plays when the tight end is on the field.

"I think he gives us a flexibility of being real multiple in our personnel groupings," Spence said. "If he plays, he's a hundred percent in my mind."

However, Downer's teammates aren't quite sure how to react. There is some worry on their part, but not a lot.

"Yes, because I was in the hospital so long, but then again, no, because a lot of the guys don't know exactly what a spleen is," Downer said. As someone who finally got a scholarship in his fifth year, he wasn't about to let his senior season come to an end after three games.

"(The doctors) said I could come back, so I assume with all their knowledge in the medical field that they're not going to put me in there and get me hurt again," he said. "I wanted to get in as many games as I could and I figured the harder I pushed to come back, the better chance I have to get all those games in. …

"I never thought that I wasn't going to come back."

Downer's rehabilitation was harder from him than that of the average person. For a normal person, they're just concerned about getting back to normal life. With Downer, normal life is getting back on the football field.

His rehab included gaining back the 20 pounds he lost during his week in the hospital.

The night Downer ruptured his spleen against Miami when he landed on the ball after making a catch he knew right away something was wrong.

"When you lose your wind and get the wind knocked out of you, it felt like that," he said. "But my wind never came back, so I knew there must be something up. There were sensitive spots in areas (around the stomach) that shouldn't have been."

He didn't know it at the time, but Downer said he last four pints of blood. He also said he wasn't aware that he was within an hour or so of dying.

"I had no idea, to be honest with you," he said. "They just said that I had lost a lot of blood and how badly it had ruptured."

But for Downer, that wasn't the worst experience of the whole ordeal. It was the seven days he spent in the hospital.

"Awful," he said. "I was real drugged up the whole time with all the pain killers and stuff. And once I finally got out, I stopped all that because I don't like all that stuff, because it just kind of changes your body. Not being able to eat was hard just because I love to eat."

Now, Downer is back to his playing weight of 260 pounds and he's ready to finally get back on the field and finish out the season that was cut in half for him. He's anxious and excited and harbors no ill will.

"Everything happens for a reason," Downer said. "This happened for a reason and maybe I'll figure it out down the road why." Top Stories