Erasmus James looked jovial and relaxed as he chatted with reporters at Wisconsin's football media day. He's been anxious to step on the field since a potentially career-threatening hip injury took him away from last season. One year of doctors, MRIs, rehabilitation and waiting later, James, a defensive end, is ready to go.
"Oh, I can't wait man," James said. "It's great just being out here with all these guys. I've missed it and I'm not taking anything for granted anymore. I'm just happy to be out here, getting on this field and just going to work."
At the end of Wisconsin's 2003 fall camp, just one week before the season opener at West Virginia Aug. 30, James injured his hip, putting him out for at least the beginning of the season.
"Well, I was just turning to run and my leg got stuck in the ground and my whole body turned," James said of the injury.
James tried to return, thinking he was only going to be out for three games, but to no avail. He had three MRIs, the first of which was Sept. 29, but the injury got worse, leaving his doctors perplexed. With little hope for recovery that season, head coach Barry Alvarez announced Oct. 2 that James had taken a medical redshirt. James thought his career was over.
"When you go to a doctor, you're looking for confidence in him and he's not knowing what's going on and you're like, ‘well, you're the doctor,'" James said.
His doctors in Madison sent him to New York over spring break in the middle of March. There he met with Dr. Russell Warren, the team physician for the New York Giants who specializes in treating injuries like James'. He diagnosed the injury as a partial dislocation and told James he did not need surgery and instead could nurse the injury simply through rehabilitation.
"I was excited, I was excited," James said, discussing his reaction when he found out he could play football again. "I called my mother and my family and I was in New York and actually, I was raised in New York, so I have a lot of family out there, aunts and uncles as well, so I spent a little time with them after and then went home. I was happy to get back into the weight room and rehab."
James was cleared to work out as soon as he arrived home from New York but was not cleared to practice until July. He did most of the workouts, eventually running up the Camp Randall bleachers.
"I was walking the steps and then the last two stadiums, I actually did run them and it felt great afterwards," James said. "No soreness or anything so I'm really … excited about this year."
James outlasts hip injury
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