Sophomore DT Ted Laurent was running a shuffle drill the last day of offseason workouts in late July.
In the middle of the drill, something distracted him and he lost his concentration for a split second.
That split second was all it took for Laurent, who had won the top nosetackle spot in spring training, to see his immediate football future flash before his eyes.
His knee gave just enough to tear the lateral meniscus and his career would have to be put on the shelf until it was fixed and rehabbed.
"I really didn't know I had hurt it until the next day. I felt a sharp pain, but I kind of put it out of my mind," he said. "The next day, though, I knew something was wrong and I got an MRI. It showed the tear."
Roughly four weeks later, Laurent put on his shoulder pads and helmet for the first time since spring training. . . and it felt good.
"It feels good to be back. The knee is about 85-90% now and it's getting better every day," said Laurent. "I can run fast and move side to side fine, but the range of motion in my knee is not 100%. I can't bend it all the way, but that is normal."
Laurent said he's doing everything pain-free, which is a good sign the knee has healed, but he's still got work to do.
"I'm not as explosive as I was in spring, but all I need is a little more rehab and getting my quad stronger and I'll be fine," he continued. "I'm effective now, but I'm just not where I was in spring."
Even better news is that he expects to be very close to 100% by the time Memphis rolls into town Saturday.
What has he missed?
"I'm just a little rusty and a little behind in conditioning, but I can catch up," Laurent said.
His timing on the comeback was fortunate for the Rebel DL, who will be missing Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy in the opener against the Tigers.
"I have to step up my game while Peria and G-Hard are out. The team needs me to come through," Laurent stated. "Peria is feeling much better than I did right after surgery, so I think he will be back soon. I know we need both of them, but we will do our best to take up the slack."
During his comeback, Coach Houston Nutt has praised Ted's efforts.
"I'm trying to make a statement to my coaches, so I am glad to hear that," Ted said.
Laurent is grateful, believe it or not, that things turned out like they did - if you believe in fate and an injury was simply in the cards.
"When I was first told something was wrong, I thought it was something really bad until it was explained to me," he closed. "I thought my year was over. When I realized it wasn't, I was relieved and thankful."
And so is the Rebel faithful. . .
Ted Laurent -
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