No pain, no gain

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

TSU’s Reed and Ansley put injuries behind them


Sports Editor

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Watching Troy State defensive backs Rayshun Reed and Derrick Ansley charge pass attempts and deliver hits on the Trojans’ practice field, the average bystander wouldn’t realize that over a year ago both players were sidelined with potential career ending injuries.

Ansley was just a freshmen last year, but impressed head coach Larry Blakeney so much during preseason practice, that he was able to see significant playing time in the Trojans’ secondary early on in 2000.

"He just has a knack of being around the football and getting his hands on so many passes," said Blakeney about the 6-1, 166 pounder from Tallassee.

Ansley came to the Trojans with all the credentials. First-team all-state, all-area and all-metro. Named the Montgomery Advertiser’s Defensive Player of the Year, following a senior season in which he forced five fumbles, picked off 12 passes and totalled 106 tackles.

But just three games into the season, Ansley was lost for the year when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in first half action against Alabama State on Sept. 16.

"When it first happened, I didn’t really think I was hurt that bad," recalls Ansley. "When I got off the field, I just sort of walked it off, but in the locker room at halftime they checked me out and told me I tore my ACL."

For a football player, especially one who plays in the secondary, an area of the team which requires an athlete, not only to be fast, but make sudden stops and quick directional changes, any injury to the knee is potentially devastating. An ACL tear is probably the worst because of the surgery it requires and the exhaustive rehabilitation that follows.

Ansley said following his injury, the first people who gave him support was his teammates.

"They gathered around me and gave me the confidence I needed to go on," he said.

Immediately after the surgery, Ansley started rehabilitating his knee.

"The first week was the toughest, trying to get the range of motion back in the leg and working through all the scar tissue," he said. "But we’ve got good trainers here at Troy State and they helped me out. The main thing you have to have is a good attitude about it. I’ve worked hard to get back where I’m at, plus I got a medical redshirt because of the injury, which is something positive that came out of it. Everything turned out for the best."

Ansley also said he doesn’t let injury slow him down and even refuses to wear a brace when playing. Following a knee injury it is usually recommended that a athlete wear a brace when participating in his or her sport.

"They always tell me I need to wear a brace, but I feel if I wear one I’ll favor it and it will remind me of the injury," he said.

However, Reed, who has moved to strong safety on defense this season, does wear a brace.

Reed played cornerback for the Trojans last year and was an honorable mention All-Southland Football League selection, despite missing the final five games of the 2000 season.

Like Ansley, Reed also suffered an ACL tear, his coming in an Oct. 21 game against Sam Houston State.

"I couldn’t believe it when it happened," said the junior from Phenix City. "I had never been hurt before playing football. But I just had to endure it and work through it. Coming through rehab was tough, but after the first month it got a little easier. It’s a long process, but you just have to be strong."

Not only is Reed adjusting to playing with a brace on his leg, but he’s also adjusting to a position change. Blakeney and defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt moved Reed to strong safety when fall preparation begin.

"The coaches wanted to try and get their best four defensive players on the field," said Reed. "They felt like I knew the defense pretty well and the move would be good for me coming off of a knee injury."

Reed said he received added motivation during the rehabilitation process from Ansley.

"We competed a lot," he said. "He (Ansley) hurt his knee before I hurt mine, so he recovered quicker then I did. But seeing him do it let me know that I could come back as well."

Now completely recovered, both players are now just waiting for the season to begin, which starts on Sept. 1 with Nebraska.

"One of the reasons I came to TSU was because I heard about the big name schools we would be playing. It’s going to be fun," Reed said about the trip to Nebraska. "We’re going to take it just like we’re playing another game, but we’re going to have to step it up a bit. We’re not giving nothing to anybody. If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to have to beat us."