The Recovery Of Lawrence Wilson

It has been nearly a month since OSU's starting defensive end went down with a fractured tibia in the first game of the season. Now in the midst of the recovery process, find out Wilson's thoughts on rehab, when he might be back and how his situation could be worse.

You have to look closely.

Ask him to pull down his sock. There, where his shin connects to his ankle, see that little mark? It's easy to miss – only about the same width as your thumbnail, maybe smaller. It's a slight indentation centered on the front of the lowest part of the shin.

See it?

That's the spot where doctors inserted a steel rod into the lower right leg into the tibia of Lawrence Wilson. Seated in a chair at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the 6-6, 276-pound junior defensive end showed reporters the tiny incision that has him unclear as to when he will see the playing field again for the Buckeyes.

"It's hard, but I try not to think about myself," he said. "I try to think about my teammates. It could be a lot worse. It could be an ACL, it could be anything. I can't complain about this little bone breaking."

The rod that has been inserted into Wilson's lower leg will remain there for the rest of his life, possibly setting off metal detectors every time he passes through them. It stretches from his ankle to his knee and will actually make his bone stronger, he said.

Wilson's leg does not hurt him, he said. He has full motion and can flex it, but it does get sore.

Nearly midway through the second quarter of OSU's season-opening contest with Youngstown State, the Penguins completed a pass along the right sideline for a 25-yard gain. Having pursued the ball on the play, Wilson lay at the quarterback's feet in obvious pain.

He was carted off the field, and his initial prognosis was good.

"When it initially happened, I thought I maybe just bruised my shin," he said. "I couldn't get up. When they took me off and I went in, I kept asking them, ‘Is it broken? Is it broken?' They said, ‘It doesn't look too bad yet.' Then they cut the tape off my ankle and they were like, ‘Yeah, it's broken.'

"Then I got real lightheaded, like everything was falling."

The day after his injury, Wilson underwent surgery. His parents, who were at the game, stuck around and helped him for the next week and a half as he adjusted to the crutches he was relegated to. Now, less than four weeks later, he walks with no brace and a slight limp.

The question now for Wilson is when he can expect to be on the field again. Unfortunately for him, that answer is unclear – he said he is "just going to listen to the doctors and do what they say."

At his weekly press luncheon, head coach Jim Tressel said it appears Wilson will be available in time for a bowl game at the end of the season. Earlier reports had pegged him to possibly be back by week seven at the earliest.

"What they told us this morning was that realistically, if we were able to earn a bowl opportunity that that would be probably the realistic situation, not that it couldn't happen prior to that," he said on Tuesday.

Wilson said he has not thought about when he would begin considering taking a redshirt for the season.

"We haven't really talked about that yet because it's still early," he said. "We haven't discussed it yet. I'm just going to play it by ear and see what the doctors say."

In Wilson's place, sophomore Rob Rose and freshman Cameron Heyward have taken over. Together, they have combined for eight tackles. Heyward has six of those, though, and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 tackles per loss.

"I'm definitely concerned for Lawrence," Heyward said. "He's definitely one of our key assets. I just keep learning from Rob and Doug (Worthington) and all them. We know Lawrence has a main role on this team."

For now, Wilson remains as active with the team as possible. He participates in team meetings, attends all practices and helps coach the defensive line from the sidelines. His rehab lasts for an hour and a half a day.

As he rehabilitates the injury, he has been taking advantage of the new underwater treadmill installed at the WHAC.

"The underwater treadmill is great because you can change the depth of it and you can make it go up to your neck and you've got 20 percent of your body weight, so that really helped me walk early on," he said. "Then they can lower it to 50 percent of your body weight. It's good. It helps a lot of guys come back a lot faster. Andre Amos does it, Curtis Terry does it, (Jon) Skinner does it. A lot of guys do it. It's real beneficial to have."

As Wilson got up to head to another meeting, he paused and added that he wanted to thank fans for their concern. He said he had gotten stacks and stacks of cards and e-mails from OSU fans from across the country wishing him well.

None had come from Michigan that he could recall, however.

"It was a lot of messages, because some of them come from California, they come from Texas, and they say ‘The whole Buckeye country wants you to get better,' " he said. "I thought that was real nice because they didn't have to do that and they decided to send me e-mail or send me a card. I really appreciate all the e-mails."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories