Troutman done with season, not recruiting

Every prep football player around the country going into their final year is looking for that year to be the best they have ever had. For some, it goes how they hope, for others, not so much. For others yet, it's even worse as they don't even get to compete in or finish their year. That's where Johnnie Troutman stands, the New Jersey prep-star sidelined for the rest of the season.

When Buffalo Bill linebacker Takeo Spikes was injured during a game against the Atlanta Falcons this last weekend, he already knew before anyone came out to aid him, it wasn't good.

He slammed his helmet to the ground before the team physicians could even arrive, because, whether or Spikes knew exactly what the problem was, there was a sense that this wasn't something that was going to get fixed over night.

It turned out to be one of the more serious leg injuries for a football player, Spikes tearing his right Achilles tendon. After the diagnosis was official, you didn't even have to say it; Spikes was done for the year.

New Jersey standout, defensive tackle Johnnie Troutman knows exactly how Spikes feels.

In game three of his senior year, Troutman was as he described, just doing what he does, his knee twisted "wrong", he went down and he knew.

Well, he didn't know exactly what it was, but maybe like Spikes, he had a pretty good idea. "I knew I was going to miss some games after it happened," Johnnie said. "I didn't know it was going to be season-ending, but I knew something was wrong."

While Spikes threw his helmet to the ground in disgust, Troutman took the less physical reaction, but no less animated. "I was yelling a lot," Troutman said after the injury. "But, I really didn't know how bad the injury was."

It's no small thing when you are a highly coveted recruit and you suddenly see your season end due to an injury. All the offers you have on the table, there's a part of you that think or perhaps dreads the idea of those offers suddenly disappearing.

Johnnie was thinking that, even before he got the official word that his season was over. "I didn't answer the phone for days," he said. "I didn't want to talk to anyone, because I wanted to wait for my MRI to see what it was exactly, so I didn't tell anyone the wrong thing."

To Troutman's relief, some of those schools, six in total, upon hearing about the injury, said that his offer would be honored if he'd still like to go to their school. "I think it was like six schools that told me that I didn't have to worry about it," Johnnie said. "Penn State, Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, Virginia and Ohio State all said that my scholarship offer was still good, so that was a relief."

Troutman did say of Penn State, that after the injury happened, that was the one school he thought, even before he talked to them, his offer would still be there. "One of our freshman coaches is good friends with some people at Penn State and before my freshman even started, he said that Penn State said that if I got hurt, I wouldn't have to worry and that my scholarship would always be there.," Troutman said.

There is obviously a definite relief to know that even though he can't play now, Troutman still knows he has a future. And it's obvious, especially now, that those schools that took it upon themselves to make sure that he knew he was still wanted to be part of their institution, those are the schools that will stay high on his list.

As for visits, Troutman said nothing was officially set, but he would be looking to that in the near future. Right now, though, he is doing what he thinks any teammate should do even if they know that they can't be out there, physically helping the team. "I'm just going to root my guys on and support them the rest of the season," he said. "I think we have a good team and we can do well this year."

"I can't be a part of it, but I am still part of the team, so I'm going to be out there cheering them on."

Troutman didn't name any favorites right now, but put all of those mentioned above on that list and said that the South Carolina Gamecocks was another school he was looking at right now.

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