Oh yeah. I stiffen up a lot. If I am sitting for too long, I start feeling shooting pains down my legs. It's hard to deal with so I just keep shifting. People probably sitting behind me are like, ‘What's going on up there?'
When it happened, your mom said it happened right away that it was the same thing again. Can you talk about what happened and the feeling?
Jake Bscherer and I were going one-on-one in a normal, everyday pass rush drill. First I ran into him doing a speed to power move and then I tried to do a Reggie White hump move to try to push by. What happened was he lost his footing and went down and I went down with him. When I went down, I felt a pop and I knew that was the injury because that's what I felt before.
Did you know then that you were done or did it take a little bit for you to realize?
I kind of had a feeling that it might be it after that just because I knew what the pain was like and it was the exact same thing. It didn't feel like a normal back spasm and that's what the MRI confirmed after I got my results.
Yeah, two of them. L4, L5 and L5, S1. Both re-herniated.
Are you ending for sure or have you thought the possibility of coming back?
See, I'd like to, but physically I can't play at a Big Ten level at the defensive line. I have to think about my life past this because there is life after football and I have to be able to walk for the next 50, 60 years or however long my life is going to be. I want to be able to sit down, play with my kids and have a normal life after football.
Have they told you that a year from now, six months from now, that you'd be able to do certain things?
As of right now, we are just kind of waiting and seeing how everything feels. I need to have some type of cortisone injection if my pain doesn't go away. If that doesn't go on, we may have to talk about surgery but that is way down the road and all dependent on how I feel. (With) backs, that's the hard thing, because it's all dependent on how I feel.
Before that happened, you felt pretty good knowing that you'd at least be able to have your limited role?
Oh definitely. I was feeling great. I had no pain leftover whatsoever because the surgery fixed that completely. I didn't have anything wrong. It was the re-herniation that caused that.
Were you angry at first?
I wouldn't say angry. I'd just say disappointment because I'd work so hard to get back and focused so hard and trained so hard to get back to the point where I could actually play. And then it just happened again. It was difficult.
Coach B said that you were probably going to do some volunteer coaching. Is that difficult because you're right there and you want to be there but it's tough being around?
I am actually really looking forward to getting back because it'll let me be around the guys and my teammates for this year. It's a tight-knit group. As of now, I don't know what the role is going to be. We have to sit down next week and try and figure that out. That's what the plan is just because right now, they want me focusing on healing. So I can go out and stand at practice for the time I need to and be able to really function that way.
How's the view from the coach's office? It's actually a great view. It's nice and air conditioned and you get to watch everything.
You watched Justin (Ostrowski) go through that process of coaching. How do you think he handled it? Did you ever talk to him about what that was like? Might you do that now?
Yeah, I am definitely going to get in contact with Justin and try to figure everything out. He did a great job of handling everything and just being there as a mentor, doing what he could by standing around. Now that I know what it is like just seeing everything, it's definitely something he did a great job with.
It's not easy going from teammate to coach though right? Is it easier with some of the young guys maybe to help them?
I don't know. As teammates, we always respected each other's opinions and just talk about that. Like, Shaughnessy sometimes would come up and be like, 'What kind of pass-rush move should I use? Watch my step for me to see if I'm doing that (right). It's something that we all kind of work as a group. I don't think it's going to be that much of a difficulty going to that role.
What did last year mean to you and how important is it that you are always going to have that year?
Oh, it meant a lot to me because I played as hard as I could and I left everything out on the field, Luckily, I was rewarded with great accolades, being first-team freshman All-American. Being considered for those things was great and just being around the team and the memories I have playing is a great asset that I have now.
Is coaching something that might become more permanent for you?
That's definitely a road that I could take and open up a lot of doors for me. I am still focusing on my academics to open that door also. I have been following that path all along to get into dentistry, following my dad's footsteps. I am looking at going to Marquette and if that happens, that would be great.
Yeah (laughs).It would be great. It's a great job, four days a week. Not bad. Don't have to take your work home with you.
Don't you have big hands? Don't you need small hands for that?
No. My dad's hands are probably an inch longer than mine and he did just fine.
How many former teammates, friends Verona people have you heard from in this process and has it helped?
I have heard from so many people that it has been great. The support group and the safety net from everyone around me have been great. All my teammates here have definitely given me words of encouragement and been really helpful and show me a lot of love after the games, come up and give me a big hug and ask how I am doing. It's really nice.