Casillas hoping for quick recovery

Freshman safety broke his foot while running stairs

Last month, University of Wisconsin defensive backs coach Ron Lee said he was hoping to pry true freshman Jonathan Casillas away from linebackers coach Bret Bielema.

Lee got his wish. Casillas, a 6-foot, 200-pound athlete who ran a 10.4 100-meter dash in a high school track meet last spring, will begin his Badger football career as a strong safety, rather than a will linebacker.

Casillas, however, will have to wait to introduce himself to the UW secondary.

As his teammates practiced Wednesday afternoon to start fall training camp, Casillas stood on the sideline, sporting a protective boot on his broken right foot.

Casillas still wore his practice jersey and helmet. He could not, however, truly be a part of the action on the turf at Camp Randall Stadium.

An hour-and-a-half before practice started, Casillas was generally in good spirits as he sat in a folding chair on the field in the McClain Center during the Badgers' media day. He beamed at the thought of playing safety. "I kind of like that position," he said, a wide smile spreading across his face. But he clearly expressed his disappointment at not being able to practice with his team.

"I think about this every day. Every night I think about it," Casillas said. "I can just see all those guys up there running around and doing things and making themselves better.

"I feel that this is a decline for me. I'm not helping myself right now. All the guys, especially freshmen, they (are) learning and picking up stuff cause they (are) interacting and everything. I'm learning still but I'm not in action, running around. That's what I came here to do. I came here to learn. I came here to do things."

Casillas arrived on campus July 7. Three days later he and two roommates, freshman linebacker Travis Beckum and freshman tailback P.J. Hill, decided to add their own workout to offseason conditioning. So they set out for a run on campus.

"We found some stairs and was running them and I kind of slipped off and fell," Casillas said. "I popped up real fast and I just thought I hurt my ankle. Then I found out the next day, I got an MRI and I had a small fracture in my foot."

Casillas is optimistic that he will be able to practice with the team later this month.

"Hopefully I get the boot off next week," he said. "And by the end of the month hopefully I'll get to start hitting people."

For the past month, Casillas participated in as much of UW's strength and conditioning program as he could.

"When they do conditioning, I just do my own rehab," Casillas said. "I was in the weight room with them and everything they did, I did, except the two-legged things."

When the rest of the Badgers would train in the McClain Center, Casillas could be found on an exercise bike.

"I talked to mom about it every other night," Casillas said. "I tell her, ‘… I wish I had never went out that day.'"

At this Casillas paused, before finishing his thought.

"I don't know. I can't take it back," he said. "I'm just hoping, thinking positive and hopefully I get this off my leg as soon as possible."


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