Against All Odds

Rupturing his Achilles' tendon before the season even began, fifth-year linebacker James Kamoku was told that his final season as a Badger would be spent on the sideline. Four months later, Kamoku proves them all wrong.

TAMPA, Fla. - James Kamoku doesn't like to listen to doctors.

After sustaining a torn Achilles injury in fall practice, the UW linebacker and special teams player was told he would miss the remainder of the season — his last as he is a fifth-year senior. While Kamoku eventually accepted the fact that he would be out for the year, he didn't like it.

So despite being told he wouldn't see the field at all in 2007, Kamoku took matters into his own hands. He attended every home game, every practice possible and sat in every team meeting.

"I didn't really care if I was injured, I just wanted to be a part of the team no matter what," Kamoku said. "Once I got hurt, I didn't know if I could make it back or not. I just rehabbed and kept with the team, showed them I'm still a part of the team and I'm there for them—I'm not an individual, I'm all there for them."

While head coach Bret Bielema was glad to still have Kamoku — who has contributed on return coverage units for the past two seasons — around, he became a bit skeptical about midway through the season.

"He was sitting in every special teams meeting and finally I just grabbed him one day and he said, ‘Coach, I'll be there for the bowl game,'" Bielema said.

Kamoku wasn't joking.

Once the Badgers arrived in Tampa, Fla., the day after Christmas in preparation for the Outback Bowl, Kamoku returned to the practice field. Bielema said it was a great uplift for the team as Kamoku is a high-energy player and is well liked on the team.

"When he was out here, he's kind of a high-spirited guy and really got the guys going when they saw him out here practicing," Bielema said.

But there was one problem — Kamoku didn't have his old No. 20 jersey since he hadn't been playing all season long, so he was forced to wear a green no-contact jersey for the first two days of practice.

"I was trying to get a red one, but they said they didn't have one," Kamoku said. "That was the only jersey they had until they told me they had my red one. Maybe they wanted me to be safe coming back, but I wanted guys to hit me. I didn't need a green jersey."

Whatever jersey he was wearing, it was a weird feeling for Kamoku as he hadn't even touched the field since fall practices.

"It was a little different," Kamoku said. "It was one of those things where I was excited, I was nervous, you just got all these different emotions flying. But it felt good to get out there."

And Kamoku couldn't be any more pumped up to play in the Outback Bowl. He will be on the kick and punt return teams and said he's "looking to jack up anyone who gets in my way."

"I'm just trying to go out there and play," Kamoku said." That's what it's all about—go out there and play, have some fun.

"It's my last year, my last game, my last everything," he added. "I'm a senior, I'm about to graduate in May so I'm going to miss the guys so it's going to be fun. I'm going to put it all out there for them."


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