Whatever happened to Skylar Jessen?

HE WAS ONE OF THE most touted members of Washington State's 2006 football recruiting class. A three-star prospect, rated one of the nation's top 70 prep running backs, he even announced his verbal commitment on live TV. Skylar Jessen of Spokane's Mead High had good wheels and sculpted biceps.

When he and Mead teammate Andy Mattingly signed with the Cougs, the future looked bright. Today, Mattingly is a budding star. Jessen, however, seems all but forgotten.

"I tore my hamstring completely last year in spring practice," Jessen said in a recent interview with CF.C.

He hasn't practiced since then and isn't listed on the team roster released the other day. Asked about his outlook for the coming year, Jessen was straightforward: "up in the air."

When the tear happened, he said, surgery was an option, but the odds were too great of his speed being permanently impaired, so he opted instead to pursue natural healing.

It's been an arduous process.

THE BUFFED SPRINTER: At Mead in Spring '06.

JESSEN REPORTS A KNOT, about half the size of a baseball, on the back of his left leg as a result of the tear. He's working to break down the scar tissue. You name the treatment, he said, and he's doing it -– ultrasound, Graston tool massage, heat and ice. He's also periodically driving to Spokane for Active Release Treatment, an innovative movement therapy aimed at healing injured tendons and ligaments.

In addition, he says he's working out two hours a day, either in the varsity weight room or the Student Rec Center. "I spend an hour-and-fifteen-minutes lifting, do 20 minutes of core work and 30 minutes of cardio," he said.

The cardio offers insight to how far he's come and how far he still has to go. When he first started his rehab, he couldn't go for more than a few minutes on the treadmill. Now he's jogging at four miles-per-hour for a half-hour.

"I think I'm in the best shape of my life, other than the hamstring," he said.

Aside from the physical challenge, there's the mental one, said Jessen.

"It's the worst feeling and athlete could get. Getting here (to WSU) and not being able to play because of an injury is hard. It's very disappointing ... Everyone in Spokane always asks about football –- nobody really wants to know about family or school. It's football. I don't really like to talk about it."

Mattingly and teammates Trevor Mooney and Reid Forrest help keep his spirits up, he said.

Jessen is no stranger to hamstring troubles. In high school, he rushed for 3,669 yards and was on pace to break a variety of Greater Spokane League career records when a hamstring strain ended his senior campaign at the season's midpoint.

FALL CAMP 2006: Jessen takes handoff from Arkelon Hall.

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