In October, 2007 Ryan Torain was unable to walk after posting five consecutive games with at least 90 yards of rushing. Following his debut season at Arizona State where he rushed for over 1,200 yards, hopes were high for another terrific season and a bright NFL future.
But after his tearing his Liz Franc ligament, Torain began a long journey back to the football field. As recently as early February, it appeared that his first performance in front of pro scouts would be during Arizona State's Pro Day in March. But he continued his dedication to his rehab and somewhat miraculously ended up participating at the NFL Combine just a few weeks later in the month.
While his 40-yard dash time wasn't indicative of his usual speed by any stretch of the imagination, he showed scouts that he was running well again less than five months after sustaining the injury. And he did well in other areas, including a seventh-place finish in the vertical jump with a 34-inch effort.
Torain talked with Scout.com's Ed Thompson about his injury and his career at Arizona State just prior to his Combine performance in Indianapolis.
Ed Thompson: Talk about the injury and the strong comeback you've been making...
Torain: I tore my Liz Franc ligament in my left foot and I had to have surgery. I couldn't walk for two months. I was sitting in a cast, and after the two months I was on crutches for two weeks. After that, I slowly started walking. And at about three-and-a-half months, I was running. I went to Athletic Performance and started rehabbing my foot there, and now I'm able to run.
Ryan Torain shows off his footwork.
AP Photo/Benjamin Sklar
Thompson: What kind of things did they do there to help you speed up that recovery?
Torain: A lot of things to strengthen the foot and muscles in my foot, like deep tissue massages to try to get the blood flowing there again.
Thompson: One thing that I think is really remarkable is that through all of this, you've done a really good job of keeping your spirits up. You're cruising along in your senior year, your year to display what you've got to NFL scouts, and you get off to a fast start. How do you deal with the way it ended so suddenly?
Torain: I surrounded myself with a lot of good people. A lot of people helped me out mentally and supported me physically. When I had the surgery, I had a lot of people taking care of me, doing things for me, and what I did for myself is stay around the game. I stayed around the team, the atmosphere with the guys, and used everyone as my medicine so I wouldn't get down and depressed about my senior year. I stayed focused and stayed confident that I was still going to be able to play football and get back.
Thomspon: You started out your year with three 100-yard performances, and in all five of your games prior to the injury, you finished with no less than 90 yards. What is it about your running style that you think helps make you successful out there?
Torain: I think it's the offense we run and how they allow me to get in the open field and run between tackles. I just say "go get it" and run down field and make plays.
Thompson: To put yourself through all this rehab, you have to love this game. What's the most fun thing about playing football for you, Ryan?
Torain: I don't see myself doing anything else but playing football, out there to make plays, and just doing a good thing for the team and being in the whole atmosphere.
Thompson: You came out of junior college, and in your first year with Arizona State became one of just five players to rush for over 1200 yards in a season in school history. That's a huge leap to go from junior college to that level of performance.
Torain: I came in confident and ready to make plays. It feels good to know that I came in and did good things like that, like breaking records.
Ryan Torain breaks free against Arizona.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Thompson: Those 1200 yards were also the fourth-most rushing yards by a back making his Pac-10 debut. After that season was over did you look back and think, "Wow, how did I do that?"
Torain: It was crazy. Knowing that I came out and had a great season felt good, and it fuels me to keep doing better and keep breaking records and being a better runner and a better person.
Thompson: What kind of guy are you as a person? What do you do to have fun?
Torain: I like hanging out with friends, watching movies, listening to music. I'm laid-back and I like to chill. I like to joke around a lot. I've always got to have laughter in my life. I'm just kind of easy going.
Thompson: You were invited to the East-West Shrine Game. Even though you weren't ready to go due to the injury, it certainly must have been a nice compliment and gave you some confidence that NFL teams are going to be knocking on your door in these coming months.
Torain: It's always a great confidence builder when you get an offer to go to the East-West game. It does feel good to get that. At the beginning of the season, during the summer, knowing that people are seeing the things you're doing, it's exciting.
Thompson: You hit me as a guy who can be counted on in the passing game at the pro level.
Torain: I like to get out in the spread and catch the ball in the open, make guys miss. That makes the game a lot more fun and brings a lot more to it.
Thompson: If you've got a guy in front of you, are you more interested in trying to work through that defender or trying to make them miss?
Torain: It depends on the situation. If I can make a guy miss, I will do that so I can take some stress off of my body by taking hits. If it's third-and-one and there isn't anywhere to go, you've got to get dirty and go after it.