ACL Rehab for Rader

While the vast majority of WVU players might not be enjoying the work involved in the summer conditioning period, they do enjoy the fruits of their labor when the season starts. However, not every Mountaineer is fortunate enough to be able to focus solely on improving in the summer.

One of those players working to get back to full strength is tight end Tyler Rader. The redshirt sophomore injured the ACL in his left leg early in spring drills – to be exact, "The first scrimmage, on the eighth play."

Perhaps it's the arduous rehabilitation process that has followed the surgery he had four weeks ago to repair the injury that allows the Cross Lanes, W.Va., native to easily (but ruefully) recall exactly when he was hurt.

"It's strenuous, to say the least," Rader said. "I've been here an hour and a half to two hours a day rehabbing, and then I've got workouts too. It wears you down, but it's worth it."

But unfortunately for Rader and his West Virginia coaches, he is limited in the kind of work he can do at the Milan Puskar Center because of his injury. Those limitations have forced him into a different workout regimen than he would have otherwise had.

"There's a lot of running in the pool to take the weight off my knee so I can still get some cardio," Rader explained. However, that work has hardly been enough, as the sport management major said a recent 20-minute trek on a StairMaster had him "dying."

Lower body strength may also be an issue.

"I'm trying to build my quad back up because it's just diminished," said Rader. "My right quad is big and (the left) one is nothing, so I‘m trying to build that back up. I'm doing a lot of squats and stuff to get the swelling out of the knee."

One area that likely won't be a problem will be upper body strength.

With the rest of his body hampered by injury, Rader has bulked up considerably in his upper body, adding 15 pounds of weight overall. Listed at 6-foot-3, 252 pounds, he appears to weigh every bit of the 260 pounds he claims to be hovering around currently.

That's not an issue in the mind of Rader, who classified himself as "more of a blocking tight end than anything," and said the extra pounds could only be a positive.

"As long as I'm adding good weight, it won't affect my speed or anything," he said. "It will only make me stronger in the long run."

While some parts of Rader's body simply can't be worked out during the summer, he has spent considerable time bulking up his brain. One of the few benefits of the reduction of time in the weight room has been a chance to spend extra time in the film room.

While Rader himself doesn't have much game film of his own to watch, he does take the opportunity to learn from his teammates and see what opposing defenses may do to counter him.

"I'll watch what (fellow WVU tight end) Tyler Urban did," Rader said. "I'll watch the fronts to see how the D-line plays and how linebackers shift, and I watch a lot of spring film from before I got hurt and what Tyler and all of them did."

The third-year sophomore hopes to be able to put that added knowledge into practice early in the season. Despite a rehabilitation process that typically calls for six months of light work, Rader claims to be ahead of schedule.

"That would put me (coming back) around mid-October," he explained. "Right now, I'm shooting for probably the first game. It's going that fast right now."

And while that 20-minute StairMaster workout may be tough for now, he plans on changing that during fall camp.

"That's the one thing coming back I'm going to have to work really hard on is getting back into playing shape," Rader said.

"I won't be able to block and stuff (in fall camp). I'll be worried about people rolling up on my knee, so I think I'll be limited in that. But running-wise and sprinting, I'll be able to do that in camp."

The limitations caused by injury may not allow Rader to improve as quickly this summer as he would have liked, but he has chosen to take a positive approach to the situation he faces.

"It's frustrating, but that's football," he said. "It happens, but I don't mind it. It gets me bigger."

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