Wilson Putting The Past Behind Him

After emerging as a disruptive force on the defensive line as a freshman and sophomore, Lawrence Wilson's body has not let him parlay those experiences into big-time success. Now recovering from his second significant injury in as many seasons, Wilson discusses his status and how the recovery went this time around.

The first cut might be the deepest, but the second is the worst.

At least, that's how Lawrence Wilson sees it. Now entering his senior season at Ohio State, the defensive end is recovering from his second significant injury in as many seasons. After first suffering a broken tibia in the first half of the first game of the 2007 season, Wilson came back feeling stronger than ever and ready to put together a standout 2008 season.

Then in the seventh game of the season against Purdue, the junior again found himself on the ground and forced to be carted off the field. This time, it was a torn ACL that knocked him out for the remainder of the season.

Having already been through one extensive rehab, Wilson knew what to expect this time around – and he was not thrilled about what would come next.

"It was tougher the second time around," he said. "The first time around you're like, ‘OK, I'm going to have to do rehab.' The second time around it's like, ‘Oh man, I have to do it again.' It's a long process but it's going pretty good."

As the Buckeyes go through spring practice, Wilson is a member of the team but finds himself largely watching from the sidelines while donning a yellow jersey signifying that he is not allowed any contact.

Being away from his teammates is tough, he said, but learning to trust his body is not.

"Mentally I just have to tell myself that I'm fine, that the doctor repaired everything and my leg is fine," he said. "I have to prepare myself mentally, telling myself I'm OK is probably the hardest part."

After suffering the broken tibia, Wilson had a steel rod inserted into the leg that will remain there. The procedure actually strengthened his leg, he said during the 2007 season. Now recovering from a torn ACL, it is up to him to strengthen the joint to where he can get back on the field.

Recovering from such an injury can take anywhere from six to nine months, he said. Now five months removed from surgery, Wilson said he feels he will be full-go by late May.

Defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Jim Heacock said Wilson is still limping around but said he expects him to be full-go when the fall rolls around.

"From a mental standpoint, it's tough now to come back and make a go of it, but he's been good through both of them," Heacock said. "He's positive, worked hard this offseason. He's got himself ready where he's pretty close.

"I think with his attitude and his mind-set I think he's determined to go out and play and put it out of his mind, and that's the biggest thing."

For now, it is all he can do to condition himself as best as possible and try to stay in the best shape possible until he can return to action.

"I'm doing well at that," he said. "I'm really focusing on little muscles in my legs more than I did before so I think that's always a plus with rehabbing. Physical conditioning as far as running, I think I'm doing pretty good with that also."

After playing in 11 games as a freshman and then all 13 as a sophomore while recording 5.0 tackles for loss, Wilson has now seen a total of eight games' worth of action in the past two seasons combined. In those years, he has recorded 20 tackles including 4.0 for loss.

Through it all, Wilson has remained an upbeat member of the team. During the 2008 season, he was often seen waving a white towel on the sideline and firing up his teammates during pregame warm-ups. Fellow senior and defensive lineman Doug Worthington credited his Wilson's spiritual side for his ability to remain positive.

"It's been unfortunate, but the kid is a very, very (spiritual guy)," Worthington said. "He believes in God. He's a faithful man. He's a man of God, so I think everything is going to work out for Lawrence. Things happen for a reason. He's ready for this season, training really hard to get back. He'll be OK."

Although Wilson said the second rehab was more difficult than the first, junior defensive end Thaddeus Gibson said he had no idea of that fact during his day-to-day interactions with Wilson.

"One thing about Lawrence, if you wouldn't have said that I wouldn't have known that," Gibson said. "He shows us a lot of enthusiasm when he's around. You couldn't tell he was even hurt. He's Lawrence and that's what I love about him."

The focus now for the 6-4, 274-pound Wilson is to take it one day at a time while keeping the big picture in mind. That also means telling his mind not to worry about what might happen on any given play.

"You can't think like that," he said. "When you think like that then bad things can happen again. I've just been thinking about taking it one day at a time, rehabbing and helping my teammates out. That's about it."

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