Fair warning: This post is, in part, about the Washington Huskies. If you can't stand that, go ahead and skip it.
Washington running back Deontae Cooper tore his right ACL in a non-contact drill and will miss the season. Normally, an ACL tear isn't as big of a thing as this is. They happen, they're not fun, but plenty of athletes have come back from them. Cooper's injury, though ... well, it's different.
From all accounts, Cooper is a good kid that works his tail off. He works hard because he has to just to get on the field. During the summer before his freshman year, he tore his left ACL. Last summer, while inching closer to seeing playing time, he tore it again. And now, in just about the same situation he was last year -- so close to seeing the field -- he tore his other ACL. His good one.
He was this close to being back at full strength. He was excited about it and looking forward to showing what he can do. Just a few days ago, he talked to Bob Condotta, and the interview says a lot about the kid.
"There is that question for the first couple of weeks," he said. "And then after you get through with the surgery and the doctor tells you you can go again, it's 'Man, (I'm) ready to strap them on and go and grind.' Until the doctors tell me I can't play, if I tear my ACL five more times, I will keep going."
Cooper, a redshirt sophomore listed at 6-foot, 201 pounds, says he doesn't want to make predictions about when he may be able to return to the field.
"I'm just going to take it day by day," he said. "You never know. I don't want to say anything. You never know what can happen. I want to stay positive but I don't want to get hopes up."
At Washington State practices, there's quite a bit of downtime for reporters and observers. We spend it talking about a little of everything -- sports, life, random topics that pass the time. On Tuesday, Christian and I started talking about Cooper. I'm not even sure how it came up, but we were discussing his comeback and potential to see some serious playing time. Cooper has a good story and seemed poised to finally get to show his skills on the field.
Just 24 hours later, that thought is gone. In fact, his career may be gone. A kid with so much athletic ability and a sound work ethic undone by knees that just won't cooperate.
This bothers me a lot. It bothers me when kids who work so hard are unable to do what they love because their body gives out. They do all the right things -- on the field and off -- and it all falls apart.
It doesn't matter who you're a fan of or where your allegiances lie. Cooper plays for a rival, but it shouldn't matter. This isn't fair. It's absolutely brutal.
Ryan Divish hit the nail on the head with a few tweets, as he so often does.
Beat writers aren't supposed to be fans. But we are humanAnd we were all rooting for Cooper to make it back.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 9, 2012
Cooper had every right to be bitter and angry after his second ACL tear and he was always smiling and positive.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 9, 2012
Best of luck to Cooper as he deals with yet another setback. I'll be rooting for him.