I have been told by both coaches and doctors that they never know how an athlete will recover from his first major injury. Regardless if he is a high school or even a pro-athlete, people just do not know what to expect how the athlete will recover.
Yesterday, I talked with Toledo Whitmer quarterback, Riley Keller, one of the better quarterback prospects in the Ohio Class of 2020. Riley suffered an elbow injury last season that caused him to not finish a playoff game, miss all of basketball season, and to miss most of track this spring.
In the playoff game against Dublin Coffman, Riley suffered a terrible elbow injury. Clean contact. Really a freak injury. After surgery, doctors put screws in his right elbow. Still healing today.
His surgery was late January. Probably will most of college football camp season, but he may have a really good idea of where he will play college football. For him, camps may not be necessary. More important is starting the season – healthy.
Last night, he was his usual positive and enthusiastic self. Totally confident that the surgery went well. Recuperation is going well. Right on schedule. Soon he can start tossing the football about ten yards max. Should be ready by the first of July.
Riley did not let me down as far the real competitor that I have watched for the last three years. He has varsity lettered in football and basketball his first three years. He has two letters in track. Now, he is throwing the discus left- handed, in hopes of doing well enough to meet the required distance for a letter.
For him he believes that a player must trust the process if he has suffered a major injury. He was blessed with a really good surgeon. Be patient. Do not rush the recovery time. Believe in the doctors. Follow orders. Most of all, again “trust the process.”
Riley used the time away from basketball, by spending more time in the football classroom. Along with his QB coach, he watched tons of video. Studied schemes. Made himself more aware of what a quarterback should see in the secondary. Improved his pre-reads. Learned a lot and never held a football.
Told me – Most of rehab is mental. Pain is there, but do not try to do too much. Do the exercises and keep pushin! Be sure to see improvement.
I always ask seniors what advice that they would give to a freshman. Riley’s – Block all of the hype, both on the field and in social media. Focus on football. Hard to realize – but a player does not need social media. Freshman should not get caught up in the “me-me” world.
Riley has had his share of stress, A starter as a freshman for a top big- school football program in Ohio. Dad is the offensive coordinator. Mother is a cousin to “Big Ben.” Guessin a solid 6’1. Social media – added pressure. Recruiting reporters always trying provide their expert evaluation. Through this all, Riley was really focused last night.
At times, I may have been one of his biggest critics. (I am sure that he still sleeps well.) But I really believe that he has the “it” factor. He finds a way to win. He makes players around him better. He has the toughness, both mentally and physically to get it done. In the right situation, he will succeed on the next level.
How does an athlete react to his first major injury? For Riley Keller, the answer will be in late July. Or when he puts the on the pads and plays for real. Today he seems to be showing patience and, best of all, trusting the process. Riley should be fine.