Another Chance

His college career to date has been a frustrating tale of how bad luck can sometimes overcome even the best of intentions and the hardest of work. But to hear WVU offensive lineman Chad Snodgrass tell it, he will enter fall practice next weekend at 100 percent for the first time as a college football player.

Snodgrass will begin his redshirt junior season as a Mountaineer when practice starts Aug. 7.

Instead of the glory he likely imagined when he signed with West Virginia as part of the recruiting class of 2007, the Nitro High alum has instead endured four long and arduous years filled with catastrophic injuries and lengthy recovery periods.

The fact that he has even stuck around the WVU football program for this long is a testament to his desire and never-say-die attitude. And he hopes to show offensive line coach Dave Johnson that attitude is one reason he is worthy of playing time this season.

"I've rehabbed correctly and I've worked hard," Snodgrass said recently, just before heading to a summer conditioning workout. "I've worked hard in the weight room and I've been running constantly, so hopefully I've got my body at 100 percent to be able to fulfill my responsibilities as a football player."

I'm constantly doing skill development with my teammates, I'm trying to get the little things better so that way I'm not rusty coming into fall camp. I worked really hard in spring making sure my fundamentals were correct, and hopefully that will carry into the fall."

While Snodgrass is a junior in terms of eligibility, the many injuries he has faced since arriving in Morgantown have held him back from improving as a player as much as he would have liked.

After redshirting as a true freshman, the bad luck started with a tear to the labrum in his left shoulder that required surgery in the spring of 2008. All told, it was a nine month process of rehabilitation that held him out of practice until the final week of that season.

Finally healthy going into the following offseason, he had a solid a solid spring before breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during the Gold-Blue Game in 2009.

After being limited during the crucial summer strength and conditioning period, he returned in time for fall camp, only to break the same bone in the same spot in practice leading up to the Backyard Brawl against arch-rival Pittsburgh in November.

Doctors have promised that his foot will no longer be an issue after inserting a three-inch titanium screw. Despite the creeping doubt that builds up in an athlete's mind after so much time on the sidelines, Snodgrass said he believes the doctors.

But the pain of the injuries, he said, pales in comparison to the that of watching younger players practice and improve enough to take spots ahead of him on the depth chart while he is forced to quietly pedal away on a stationary bicycle.

"You feel like you're letting everybody down," Snodgrass said. "You're letting your coaches down. You're letting your state down and your family down. It's hard to overcome, but I think I've overcome it and dealt with it well. It's an extremely hard thing to do when you feel like you're letting everybody down.

"It's hard to swallow. You just feel like you're not part of the team. The strength staff, they try to make you feel you're a part of the team as much as they can, but deep down you know you're supposed to be out there practicing. And it's hard not to."

But Snodgrass is not bitter about the fate that has befallen him, choosing instead to focus on the fact that he feels truly healthy heading into this season.

"It's hard being stagnant [in terms of developing as a player], but I've just got to get over it and look forward to my future," he said.

"This is really my first time being able to play at 100 percent since I've been here, with injury after injury every year. It's a great feeling."

That future includes a chance to prove to Johnson this fall that he deserves to be a part of the two-deep along the offensive line.

While it might be easy to dismiss the chances of a player that has been around for as long as Snodgrass has without making a big impact, Johnson and the rest of the WVU coaching staff has expressed faith in the lineman's ability to emerge late in his college career.

"It means a great deal to me to have a coaching staff that still believes in me and wants to give me a chance after all I've been through," Snodgrass said. "It really lifts my spirit up."

"It is incredibly satisfying. It's like a large weight has been lifted off my shoulders. [Injury] is hopefully something I'll never have to worry about again, and I can just look forward to playing football."

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