Horns health takes an early hit; Scaife out

I wrote recently that most college football observers understand that talent is but one ingredient of a championship recipe that, among other things, includes a sprinkle of luck and a large heapin' of health. Wednesday afternoon, after days of hope that <B>Bo Scaife's </B>knee injury was less severe than feared, Texas learned that neither luck nor health would be on the Horns' or Scaife's side on the cusp of their '02 season.

Starting tight end Scaife, expected to continue to play a key role in the Texas offense this fall, will instead miss the entire '02 season, UT announced Wednesday afternoon. Scaife met with Longhorn team surgeon Carey Windler Tuesday upon returning to Austin from Denver, and the two agreed that the junior TE's twisted knee will force him to have corrective surgery.

Neither Mack Brown nor the official media release on the injury -- which says Scaife "has elected to undergo surgery to strengthen his left knee" -- mentioned a torn ACL, and the head coach stressed that the injury is not as bad as the two previous injuries -- ACL tears in each knee -- Scaife suffered as a high school senior and in two-a-days as a UT sophomore. "It's obviously not what he's been through in the past," Brown said. "He feels really good about his future and he wants to continue to play and he wants to be back in the spring and play for next fall."

"It's extremely disappointing for me that I won't be able to be on the field helping the guys make a run at the Big 12 and National Championships," Scaife said in a statement released through The University. "But I'm going to get my knee taken care of, do my rehab and be back and better than ever in the spring."

"It's a setback, but I need to get it handled so that I can get back to 100 percent. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to helping the guys any way I can. I'll be out there everyday taking care of my knee and helping to coach and push my teammates. My role has changed, but I'll help this team any way I can."

After Wednesday's final freshman-only practice, Brown said Scaife should return to practice in spring '03. The school plans to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Scaife, which if granted would give the tight end two more seasons of eligibility starting with the '03 season. "We will petition to the NCAA for a sixth year because he wants us to do that and we feel like he has a case that is very definitely worth pursuing," the head coach said.

"We have not made decisions on what we will do at that position," Brown added. "We will meet in the morning and look at it because we had hopes that he would still be able to play so we really haven't made any progress and we've got till Saturday morning to think about what we do. Obviously, we've got Chad Stevens and Brock Edwards who have played a lot at that position. Brock played some at fullback, but he'll have to do both now. We've got (walk-on) Josh Doiron returning and David Thomas coming in and (walk-on) Cullen Loeffler has played there and is our deep snapper, so thank goodness we've recruited well and we've got some other players, but we'll have to look at our team and see what we can best do to try to get our tight end position back where we need it to be before we get started."

Greg Davis basically echoed Brown's thoughts. "It's a little early to say," Davis said on any personnel moves to bolster the position. "We just found out for sure today so any talk of position changes are a little premature. We want to continue to work Brock and Chad Stevens at fullback and tight end. We'll continue with that plan and go from there."

"My first thought is disappointment for Bo," the offensive coordinator said Wednesday upon learning the news. "He had a great spring and he brings a lot to the table because of his ability to stretch the field, but we thought before this that David Thomas is very similar to Bo. They both have wide receiver skills. Even before this, Thomas was a guy we thought might get to play." With Scaife's injury, "will" almost certainly should replace "might" preceding the phrase "get to play" when talking about the 6-3, 220-pound true frosh from Frenship.

Unfortunately, with Scaife's injury, "might" may well replace "will" preceding the phrase "compete for the national championship" when talking about Texas. That will depend on how Edwards, Stevens, Thomas and the rest of the Horns respond to the challenge of losing a great player and crucial contributor. Along with the ingredients of talent, luck and health, perseverance is also in the championship mix, and its portion in UT's title recipe just got bigger with the loss of a lot of health.

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