Lee Evans/Barry Alvarez Verbatim

Lee Evans and Barry Alvarez met with the media July 10 for the first time since Evans went down with a severe ACL injury April 20. Evans talked in detail about his surgery, his prognosis for recovery, his rehab schedule and much more. Alvarez discussed his thoughts on Evans' progress and outlook. Badger Nation was there and has transcribed every word spoken at the press conference. Here's a look:


"First off, I would like to thank you, the press, for giving me this opportunity to speak to y'all and for giving me my privacy over the last couple weeks and throughout this process. I've been real diligent with the rehab and that's been my focus. I've been keeping my mouth shut a lot about what's going on, but now I feel ready and confident to do so, and I would just like to thank you for the privacy in me doing so. I would also like to thank all the fans that have sent me a letter of encouragement. Every little thing that I've received…advice from people and just letters wishing me well and hoping I do well has really been heartfelt and has really carried me a long way. Throughout this process I have had the privilege to talk to some people who have gone through the process such as Jerry Rice, who is my favorite player ever. He gave me a call and, he heard about the situation, gave me a little bit of advice. We sat down and had a nice little conversation about some of the things he did and just how the process was going to be, and this was before I had surgery. After I had surgery, I also got another call from Jamal Anderson. He had been through two of them. He said he went through some of the things I went through. With his first surgery, he didn't have some of the things that I had but with his second one he did. And he said some of the things that I was going through, I was definitely on the right track to be where I wanted to be. So that was also very encouraging."

On whether he was surprised to hear from Jerry Rice:

"Definitely. It was more than a shock. I couldn't believe it at first. I was given a heads up that he might call, but I really didn't expect it. When it came, it definitely made my day. To actually talk to the person you idolized when you were little, and grew up watching, and still idolize now, it's a great feat.

On whether patience was one of the primary pieces of advice he received:

"Definitely. A lot of people try to come back early and some things didn't work out for them, but that's probably been one of the biggest pieces of advice that have been given to me, is just be patient. You know your body more than anybody else, and your body will tell you when you're ready to come back."

On his plan to come back:

"I really want to be back by the Big Ten season. I don't want to miss any games in the Big Ten. But if I can come back a little earlier I will. I won't rush it. I feel I can be ready by then, but if I'm not, then I'll wait. My plan is to be back by the Big Ten season."

On whether it's been hard to stay upbeat:

"You have your days. It's an up and down process, but I'm around a lot of great people. The coaches, the support staff, the fans and I've been getting a lot of encouragement, so that's been a big factor in keeping my spirits up. You have to accept some of the things that happen to you in life and I'm dealing with that now and that's also helped."

On whether he's handling it better than he thought he could:

"Maybe not better, but I knew I could handle the situation. You're going to be tossed a lot of obstacles in your life. It's how you rebound from them that shows the type of person you are, so I knew I could handle it."

On where he is right now in his workouts:

"Right now I'm able to jog and run through some routes, do some planting and cutting and catch some balls. I do a lot of work in the pool just getting circulation and some of the muscle control back in the pool, a lot of balance work. I started leg press trying to gain some muscle back. Those are pretty much the main things I do. I still work on a lot of flexing, with my ACL leg, trying to get it back to perfect, where it needs to be. But I can do pretty much anything I really want to do next to sprinting and running at full speed."

On how fast he's running routes:
"I try to push it more and more every day. I started out jogging just to test it, see how it felt. But every day I try to push it a little more, just to see how far I can get it. There are still some factors that lie underneath how fast I can run. My stride is a little short right now. But every day I'm working to get it longer, to where it needs to be…I started running two, two and a half weeks ago."

On the aggressive surgery procedure he had done:

"The procedure I had was, they took one-third of my patella tendon from my right leg, which was my good leg at the time, and used it as my ACL in my left leg. So it's a rehab on both knees, but it's progressed really well. The leg that they took the tendon from is not causing me any problems at all, which is good. (It was done by) Dr. (Don) Shelbourne in Indianapolis. My family and I sat down, and my dad knew a few contacts. We sat down and researched them. He's an ACL specialist. That's all he does, and he's been doing this for a number of years. We went down and talked to him, and not really interviewed him, but he gave us his whole deal, what he does. He had it all laid out on a cd, he took us step-by-step what happens, and we were real comfortable with what he was talking about, so we decided to go with him."

On how he knows when not to push it too far:

"You know if…if I can bend my leg all the way to my butt one day and I can't do it the next, then I worked too hard. I pushed it a little too hard that day. So I just judge it by what my body tells me. If I'm in too much pain from doing one thing, then I back off on it and try something different."

On whether there's any chance he will not play this year:

"I haven't even thought about it. My plans right now are to play and that's my focal point and I'm trying to get to that point. If things down the road say otherwise, then I'll cross that bridge when it comes, but right now I don't think about that. I'm thinking about playing."

On the importance of his family in the process:

"Very important. They stuck with me through my decision to stay. Any decision I make, I know my family is behind me 100 percent, and that means a lot. I'm just coming back from home, yesterday actually, and you could tell that anything they can do for me, they will. And they just have my back through everything, and provided me with some of the things I've needed."

On Chris Chambers and Jamar Fletcher:

"I've talked to Chris more often than I've talked to Fletch, but Fletch is always somebody I can talk to. He's had his rough times and he's dealt with his things. And Chris as well. He's been injured a lot of times in his career and he also has a lot of words of encouragement for me. Those are two people I definitely take advice from."

On what makes him so positive he can come back before the standard recovery schedule (6-8 months):

"For one, that's what I set my sights on. There have been people that have come back from ACL tears in less than four months. So I feel I should be able to do the same. I have a very competitive attitude, that if somebody can do something, I can do it too, if not better. Four and half months…Broderick came back from his in four. And I feel I can at least do that. I just attack it that way. And every day I try to get better. That's the way I attack this rehab, attack life and attack the game of football."

On whether he's worried about hurting his NFL Draft stock, coming back too early:

"I'll think about the draft later on. Right now I need to get back on the field and that's where I'm at. I talk to some people and people have all types of info, but right now my focus is on this rehab and stepping back on the field."

On his daily rehab schedule:

"I primarily work with Ian Wood. He's one of the assistant trainers. He actually had the surgery a few years back, so he kind of knows some of the ins and outs and some of the different things. I'm probably (in the football complex), between working out and rehab, about six hours a day doing numerous exercises and working out upper body, just trying to get back to normal and do everything I could do when I got hurt. Next is sprinting, and I'm doing a pretty good job with it."

On speculation he could play in the season opener versus Fresno State:

"It's definitely a possibility, but that game is real close. I won't force that issue. If I could play in that game, that would be great. That's going to be a great atmosphere to play a college football game. But if I'm ready to play, if I'm not, then I won't."

On the type of impact he can make this year:

"A big impact. I know how good an offense we were, and with everybody coming back, we can do even greater things this year. We have some different things going in to try to expose some of the other people on offense. I know how good we can be. It's just a matter of me getting back and being a part of the puzzle."

On some immediate rehab goals:

"First it was the range of motion issue. I have to be able to sit on my heels. That's full range of motion. I have to be able to sit on my heels easily, first thing in the morning, with no pain. I haven't got to that point yet, but that's probably the next step. And after that, it will be running. Running comfortably, and running through routes and doing those things comfortably. And I'll go down and I have to do some testing and things like that, but that's probably the next step in it…when you have surgery like that, there's a lot of damage done to the capsule, and that only takes time to heal. There's still some swelling in there, and that's still got to work it's way out of there, but we stretch it out to keep extension. If you ever had knee surgery, you know what I'm talking about. You have to keep extension. Keeping extension helps your speed. If you lose extension, you lose speed, so that's also been a focal point."

On former Purdue cornerback Ashante Woodyard, who made a similar quick comeback last year, with the same doctor:

"I haven't talked to him. The doctor talks about him a lot, and he compares us a lot of times. He tells me some of the things he did, and what he did when he came back and things like that, but I haven't actually talked to him...it's just another (example) that it's possible. It's definitely reassuring."


On how it will be decided when Evans can return:

"I think the doctors will have an indication of how strong he is as compared to where he was, but it's all going to come back to Lee. They'll give him an idea of where he is, and what percentage of his strength is back, but it's got to be Lee…he'll know when he's ready and when he's confident that he can do the things…Lee made a statement, I'm going to steal it from him. I heard him make this statement a week or so ago. When he steps back on the field, you're not going to see Lee Evans' brother playing. You want to see Lee Evans the way you remember Lee Evans and it's not going to be a three-quarters speed Lee Evans. It's going to be Lee Evans."

On how Evans' rehab has gone compared to other players he's seen go through the same process:

"I think everyone's different. Broderick (Williams) came back very early last year. He had one earlier, in high school, and knew how to rehab it. And I saw his progress. I see Lee progressing very well. He's just attacked it. He knows his body very well. Because of his attitude, I think he's really progressed extremely well."

On Evans' aggressive attitude towards rehab:

"He's been an inspiration for all of us. Not only the rest of the football team, the players, but our staff, in how positive he's been, how he's gone about handling everything, not getting ahead of himself, being positive about everything. I don't know how anyone could handle it or do things any better than Lee has and because of his attitude and his approach, I'd be very surprised if he doesn't reach his goals, the way he has with everything else he deals with. But I go back to the day after the injury. I went down to see him in his apartment. I was in the tank about as bad as you could be in the tank, and I walk in and he's sitting there with a big smile on his face, playing video games. He wanted to know how I was doing. I talked to his mom, and she was the same way, `Don't let him overdo it.' She had a great attitude so he's got tremendous support, he's a very unique individual, and I'm just proud of the way he's dealt with everything."

On how he approaches the season with Evans' uncertain status:

"We'll play that as we go along. Lee will go to camp with us, because his leadership is an important part of our football team, what he brings to the team. And we'll just gauge where he is and when he'll be able to play and work it in. Obviously when he's there, he'll be an awful large part of the offense as he has been. But we have a base offense and that's what we'll go to. When he's ready to play he'll be on the field, and obviously we'll feature him."

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