Fry Anxious to Prove He Belongs in the NFL

As the 2007 NFL Draft approaches, defensive end Gaines Adams hopes he's one of the first five players selected. Meanwhile, offensive guard Roman Fry isn't even sure he's going to be picked. Such is life following a major knee injury.

"I think somebody would be lying if they said they didn't want to get drafted," Fry said in an interview with CUTigers.com. "Right now, though, I'm preparing myself for the worst-case scenario, which would be you have to go through free agency.

In the middle of the 2006 season, Fry, a left guard, was on all kinds of watch lists for national honors, including recognition for being mid-season first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated. But then in the third weekend in October, all that came to a horrible end.

What was once a sure bet of getting drafted suddenly became 50-50 proposition at best, as Fry tore his ACL, LCL, MCL and PCL against Georgia Tech. The injury ended his Clemson career and put his NFL career and draft status in serious jeopardy.

"It's a depressing injury, especially at that time of the year" Fry said. "I hadn't had a serious injury in 11 years playing football. It really came as a shocker to me."

Though Fry is one of the more upbeat and happy-go-lucky people in the entire Upstate, even he had some doubts as to what the future held. There were some days in which he would feel a little down, but then there were others where he was determined to get his knee back in shape.

Fortunately for him, the latter was much more prevalent.

"You have (bad thoughts)," he said. "That's just the nature of it. You're going to feel like that some days. You're going to get depressed, I don't care who you are. Nobody is positive all the time.

"It takes a real tough character to say, there isn't anything I can do about it now, but I'm going to do what I can control, and that's getting in there and rehabbing and doing things properly to get me back to being better than I was before the injury."

Since that fateful night in October, Fry has steadfastly done everything in his power to regain the strength in his bad knee. He was just recently listed as 90 percent of the way back by his team of doctors.

"I can either sit on this couch and worry about this injury, or I can get up and do something about it," Fry said. "When you go through the rehab and you start getting better and better, you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Even if there are questions surrounding his knee right now, there shouldn't be in a few months, or so.

Knee injuries and surgeries are fairly commonplace these days, and after the rehabilitation is complete, the knee is practically good as new in nearly all cases.

That should bode well for Fry, who was leading the Tigers in knockdown blocks entering the Yellow Jackets game with 62.

But Fry is still some three to five months away from being cleared by his doctors to getting back on the field as a regular player.

And that is the dilemma many interested NFL teams find themselves in: Do they take a chance on an obviously talented but injured player or do they wait to see if he regains full strength in his knee and then hope they can sign him as a free agent?

Not getting drafted could actually serve Fry better, because it means he could pick and choose which team he goes to. He could sign with a team that is in need of a guard or center and that employs the zone blocking scheme, which is something he really likes.

However, there's no question what Fry wants, even if it means being one of the last players selected.

"Obviously you'd like to be drafted," he said. "It would be nice. But I'm not ready to go into mini camp healthy. I'm just waiting like everyone else to see what happens."

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