"When it happened, I didn't know what was going on because it was numb," Jon Halapio said. "I almost passed out because I looked at it, and the bone was sticking out. When I was fully conscious, I went into the locker room and it started hurting. That was the worst pain."
Halapio had surgery the Sunday following the game to correct the bone and set it back in place. He said there wasn't any pain during that part because the doctors "digitally blocked every nerve in his hand" to avoid any further pain.
Head coach Urban Meyer said the following Monday that Halapio had a chance to play that Saturday against Mississippi State. Normally it would be unheard of for a player to play the week after having the bone in his finger come through the skin, but Halapio's toughness made it possible. That was until he suited up for the week of practice.
"I did go through practice, but it was just too painful," Halapio said. "I couldn't handle it."
The bye week after Mississippi State gave the finger two weeks to rest. That's when the feeling came back to normal, to the point where Halapio played in the Georgia game without any pain.
The offensive coaches welcomed him back.
"He's one of our most improved players on the team," Meyer said about Halapio's progression. "It's the way he practices. He's going to be a really fine offensive lineman in this conference."
Halapio credits improving his technique and understanding of the game as why his play has improved.
"I'm getting better every week, which was my mindset going into the season," Halapio said. "I'm not going to be an All-American the first week. This was my goal to get this much playing time."
Halapio knew he wouldn't be perfect in his first start. However, he admits he wasn't even close. The redshirt freshman remembers grading out at 55% after the first game. It has increased every game since then, culminating with an 83% grade against Georgia, but that first grade will always stick with him.
"After the first game, I was horrible," Halapio said. "I was disgusted with myself. I couldn't believe I was on the field playing like that. I promised myself it wouldn't happen again."
The improvements have come through extra effort. He was so embarrassed with his performance during week one that the frustration has driven him to work extra to make sure it never happens again.
"I had to stay extra after practice and watch film," Halapio said. "I'd just take our off days to watch film."
The film room becomes a study center for Halapio. He is surrounded with upperclassmen offensive linemen who know the offense well. It's the perfect place for the redshirt freshman to learn.
When the coaches flip on game film, Halapio always watches his own play first. However, he tries to watch Mike Pouncey as well. The two have a special relationship that allows honesty when it's needed the most.
"I try to watch Mike Pouncey on every single play. I love watching him and want to follow in his footsteps because he practices hard and he plays hard. In the meeting room he sits in the front row, and I sit right behind him. Every question I have, I ask him and he answers it. If he sees anything wrong with what I'm doing, he'll tell me that, too."
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Halapio Recovered from Broken Finger
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