Sometimes life is not fair. SMU freshman offensive lineman Joey Fontana found out the hard way on Saturday morning. During a cold drizzly practice, with scrimmaging near complete, Fontana got tangled up with teammates and hit the ground in pain.
"It happened pretty quick. All I remember is that I was blocking the guy in front of me and he had fallen down. I was hit from behind and I felt my knee dislocate and pop out of the socket," said the freshman. "The guys who saw it on film said that it looked like my knee got caught up between two people and my body fell forward, but my knee just stood up the same way."
The SMU team trainers, Fontana's teammates, and his coaches knew immediately something was wrong. With a few in attendances looking on, Fontana was carted off the field and taken immediately to the hospital. There, doctors could not gauge what had happened because of the swelling. His knee was back in the socket, but they could not see if there was structural damage.
On Monday, Fontana returned to have a MRI. His worst fear, turned into a reality. The freshman had torn everything but his MCL. With that much damage, his rehab time will be for a year or more.
"It's tough, especially this late in the season. With it being at least a year, that means I'm going to miss next season as well," stated Fontana to PonyStampede.com. "It's hard not getting to be with the guys as we go to our first bowl game in 25 years. It makes you think about how every second you can't take for granted."
The Scout.com 3-star center will now head back to Louisiana for an extended period of time. He is closely working with his SMU professors and academic advisor to get an extension on some of his finals, while taking others early.
"I'm probably going to home tonight or tomorrow and go visit with the doctor in New Orleans by hopefully the end of the week," said Fontana. "I will hopefully have the surgery Monday or Tuesday, the sooner the better. Then I will be on crutches for three to six weeks. I'm hoping that when I get back in the middle of January, I will be able to walk to class."
SMU team physician Dr. John Baker will be making the trip to Hawaii with the Mustangs, and will not be able to perform Fontana's surgery. He recommended for the freshman to have his operation done by formerNew Orleans Saints Team Orthopedist Dr. Tim Finney.
"My personal goal is to be able to go full speed and hit people a year from this spring. That is when I want to get back on pads," stated Fontana. "As far as running and doing drills, I want to be able to be doing that in a year from now exactly. As far as contact, there is not going to be a point to rush it and get back for the end of next season."
While the news could not be any worse for the offensive lineman, Fontana is positive throughout it all.
"I'll be back. It will take a while, but I'll be back. It's just a minor setback for a major comeback. I gotta stay positive," said the freshman. "When I get back to working out, I'm just going to be doing a lot of upper body workouts. I'm going to get with a sports nutritionist so I won't put on weight. My cardio will be somewhat limited."