Hampton finds strength

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Troy University's Jaime Hampton (7) runs the ball during the Trojans' game against Middle Tennessee State University. (Photo/Troy University Athletics, Kevin Glackmeyer)

It takes a strong-willed player to suffer a season-ending injury and come back, ready to play less than a year after it happened.

It takes an even stronger-willed player to suffer another season-ending injury two years later and still have the same fight and desire to return to the field.

But Troy quarterback Jamie Hampton would not have it any other way.

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Just eight days after suffering his second season-ending injury against Middle Tennessee, and just a week after having gone through successful surgery to fix the compound fracture in his left leg, Hampton finds himself back in Troy and ready to get back on the field.

Despite another gruesome injury, the quarterback said he was in no pain.

“I’m fine, surprisingly,” Hampton said.

“This (injury) has been a lot easier to deal with than the ACL tear that I got in 2008.”

That was not the case though after Hampton was hit on his lower left leg after an eight-yard gain against the Blue Raiders.

“When I got hit, I think my body instinctively knew something was wrong. I tried to get up off the ground and lift my leg, but it just was swinging around. At that point, I knew something pretty bad had just happened.

“I thought the worst,” he said. “I was scared that I would have to walk with a limp for the rest of my life.

“But the doctors told me that I’m going to be fine and I am going to try and get back on the field for next season.”

During his surgery, which took place in Birmingham, doctors placed a metal rod into the middle of Hampton’s left tibia bone using the incision made when he had surgery on his ACL.

The hit was not what pained Hampton the most however.

“The worst pain was knowing that I wouldn’t be able to play with the guys again this season,” he said.

“I loved my role with the team this year, I really did love being a side-kick for Corey,” Hampton said with a laugh. “He was Batman and I was Robin and it was great.”

Even though Hampton knew what the road to recovery would be like thanks to his ACL injury, there was another, bigger, factor, that helped comfort the Trojan – his faith.

“When I had my first major injury, my faith was really very new to me, but this time around, I am more grounded with my faith,” Hampton said.

“When the injury happened, it did not shake my faith. I understand that my true joy is not in football or playing football, but in God. I have a different perspective on things than I did before and that is something that has really made a difference for me not just on the football field, but in my life.”

Along with his faith, the people in Hampton’s life have also helped.

“I got oodles and oodles of texts and calls from friends and family and fans,” he said. “My mom even got letters from people who were wishing me well.

“To see that kind of outpour from everyone was really humbling and I just thank God that I would be blessed with such wonderful people in my life.”

One of those friends was former Troy teammate and roommate, Levi Brown.

“When I first saw the play, I was in pure shock,” Brown said.

“It’s really a terrible feeling to see one of your best friends go through an injury like that, but I knew that if anyone was going to pull through it and be OK, it was going to be James because of his faith and because of who he is – I knew he would find some good out of it.

“I have checked up on him since then, I sent him a text right after he was taken off the field. James is an unbelievable guy and an absolute beast because he didn’t even act like it hurt when it happened.”

Hampton was able to find some fun with the injury as well.

The aforementioned ACL injury that took place in 2008, happened on Oct. 7, a Tuesday night during an ESPN 2 televised game against Florida Atlantic on the road.

“Yeah, someone pointed that out to me,” Hampton said. “It’s kind of weird how this injury almost happened two years exactly to the day of my last one. It’s kind of crazy.

“I was thinking, if I ever do play again, I may have to sit the next ESPN game out,” he said with a laugh.

As the quarterback begins his rehabilitation, he said he plans to try get back on the field by the time the new season is ready to begin, if nothing else than to be an encouraging face on the sidelines.

“I’m working to play again, and I believe I can. Like I said, I love the role that I had this season.

“But if it doesn’t work out, I am going to be the best cheerleader I can for these guys. I will be there to encourage them after every play and to shake their hands when they get to the sidelines.”