D'Imperio: Fighting Back From Injury

A leg injury is one of the toughest injuries for a football player to endure. Leg injuries not only keep the player off the football field, but it also hurts the endurance level, which is of vital importance at all positions on the gridiron.

Linebacker Ryan D'Imperio was presented with this circumstance during a spring practice scrimmage when D'Imperio had his leg broken during a freak accident on the field.

"I couldn't believe it was something that was happening," D'Imperio said. "It was something I was fearing my whole life."

Being helpless in a bed is a tough feeling for anyone. During this difficult time in D'Imperio's life, as folks often require the pick-me-up from close friends or relatives, it was the young man's grandmother that was a key help.

"I had to drive my parent's crazy, especially my grandmother," D'Imperio said. "My parents are still going to work, my grandmother is there everyday. I felt bad for her."

D'Imperio was expected to start for Rutgers come opening day this season, but the leg injury took that chance away from him. Last season, he played mostly on special teams in his first season as a freshman. The sophomore out of Sewell, NJ is working hard to get back to the level that he was before the injury.

The first action that D'Imperio saw was at the end of the Norfolk State game. Slowly but surely he is catching up to the speed of the game and he feels that he is getting close to where he needs to be.

"I don't even know the difference, but when I watch the film, you can see some spots where I am a little bit slower," D'Imperio said. "It is getting there faster and faster."

The process that D'Imperio had to go through in order to get to this point involved patience. Players are used to getting out on the field and going full speed. However, the coaching staff and D'Imperio realized that a plan had to be put together in order to bring him along in small steps to avoid further injury.

"With the rehab I had to run and I couldn't run for long periods of time," D'Imperio said. "I would have to stop and take breaks and start up again."

Interestingly enough, the sophomore linebacker thought he would be back before the season started, while his doctors told him he might miss the entire season. Being back this quickly is a credit to the hard work that the New Jersey native put in between the spring and the start of the season.

"I had the thought that I would just get back and help the team any way I could," D'Imperio said. "Whether it was redshirting or getting in there and playing."

This team first approach shot down the notion about taking the starting linebacker job back. D'Imperio is letting all of those decisions to be made by the coaching staff and is just worrying about making it as tough of a decision as possible for Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano.

"He caught my eye today (Tuesday) more than he has," Coach Schiano said. "He did a couple drills where he changed direction and I had to look up to see who it was. He has been looking a little bit slower than he used to look. He looked more like his old self."

The process is not over, but D'Imperio is going to continue to fight his way back and work to be the player he was before the injury. The state of mind that he has is positive and continues to push towards the future.

"I feel that I am very close to that," D'Imperio said. "It is hard to explain, but it feels like I am going and everything is right when I am out there and it is not like I am trying to favor it but you can see I do favor it. I just have to get over that and get passed that." And once D'Imperio does take that necessary next step the RU LB corps will be that much better for it.

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