ATHENS, Ga. - Aug. 15 marks anniversary of the greatest challenge of Reggie Weeks' life.
One year ago from Thursday, Weeks was taken off the Georgia practice fields in the back of an ambulance. It was clear the freshman from Smiths, Ala., had suffered a serious knee injury; what was not revealed until later was the fact the damage to arteries in the dislocated left knee almost cost Weeks more than a season or career of football.
"The doctors told me there was only a 10-percent chance of me keeping my leg,'' Weeks said this week.
Weeks beat those odds, began a long rehabilitation period, was moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle in spring practice and now is moving closer to his first contact since the injury. Weeks has been wearing the green non-contact jersey in two-a-day practices as he continues what he has been told is an improbable comeback.
"They say I'm the only guy in college football to come back from this type of injury,'' Weeks said. "The knee feels real good. It's strong and stable. I got checked out by all the surgeons.'' Weeks hopes he can soon shed the green jersey and compete for a backup position, even though he is still adjusting to his new role on offense. "It was real new to me but if everything comes along and I get comfortable there, I should be a good backup this year,'' he said.
Still, Georgia coaches can't ignore the serious nature of the injury Weeks suffered.
Said Coach Mark Richt: "We're just going to go slow with him. Everybody has kind of said he's good to go, but we still want to go slow. He hasn't played football in a while. Sooner or later within the next week or two we'll have a real good feel of how he feels and how confident he is in the knee.''
- Another dramatic comeback: Weeks wasn't the only player to leave the
practice fields in an ambulance last year. Albert Hollis II suffered an even
more devastating knee injury in the spring of 2001, and he missed the entire
2001 season and 2002 spring.
Hollis, from Sacramento, Calif., hadbeen as hyped as another running
Musa Smith, in the 2000 signing class, and so fans have been anxious for his
return. But Hollis suffered nerve damage in his knee, making his injury more
similar to the one suffered by former Georgia running back Robert Edwards
following his rookie season with New England.
Hollis is still working to regain full movement of his foot, so even
he already has made great progress and is working with other running backs in
two-a-days, he recognizes that he still could be a year away from game action.
"I'm working hard every day, 110 percent, doing all I can do,''
"I know I'm going to come back. If I don't (this season), then next year.''
Told that fans often ask about his progress, Hollis said "I'm
too. I want to get out there as soon as possible.''
Before his injury, Hollis competed on the Georgia track team, running a
season-best time of 10.42 seconds in the 100 meters and posting the
fourth-best 60-dash time (6.80 seconds) in Georgia history.
Mario Raley - WR
- Good start for Haywood: A few weeks ago, Macon's Cedric Haywood
might be working out with other freshmen at Central Michigan. Instead, as one
of two late Georgia signees, he has an opportunity to emerge as a surprise of
the 2002 signing class.
Haywood (6-1, 183) knows that he has to make a big leap from an
league high school team - Central Fellowship Christian - to major college
football. Even so, he looked very comfortable running through drills with
other receivers as he showed a good combination of speed and power.
Georgia looks deep at receiver and also signed a more highly regarded
freshman, Mario Raley, at the position.
Despite the return of such veteran receivers as Terrence Edwards, Fred
Gibson, Damien Gary and Reggie Brown, Richt says there is definitely room for
a freshman to play this year.
"I think I've got a good chance to contribute; I've just got to take
advantage of it,'' Haywood said.
"I feel I have a lot to prove. They say 'You were in a private
know there's a big difference between private schools and college, a big
Haywood was prepared to sign with Central Michigan before two scholarships
became available at Georgia. Haywood
and fullback Christopher Hickman of Marietta were the late signees.
- Weighty matter: It was reported Thursday that Georgia coaches were not happy that senior offensive guard Alex Jackson reported at 333 pounds, even though he is listed in the media guide at 345 pounds. The listed weight in the media guide was the last measurement for Jackson, not the weight - closer to 325 pounds - that offensive line coach Neil Callaway was expecting. Therefore, Jackson was demoted to second string and freshman Josh Brock opened practice with the first-team offense at Jackson's split guard position.
Charles Odum can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com
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