Posted on: September 26, 2011 6:27 am

Penn State loses LB Mauti to torn ACL vs. EMU

Despite impressively beating Eastern Michigan 34-6 Saturday, Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions suffered a significant loss over the weekend with redshirt junior outside linebacker Michael Mauti tearing the ACL in his left knee.

Mauti, 6-2, and 242 pounds, was the team's leading tackler and some believe had ascended this season to be the Nittany Lions' best all-around player.

Mauti's season will end with 21 tackles; still tied for the team lead in stops despite his injury occurring in the first quarter. He was viewed as Penn State's most reliable and versatile linebacker. Stout, strong and surprisingly speedy in coverage, Mauti had already established himself as one of the better young linebacker prospects for the NFL. Though he played outside for Penn State, his size and instincts appeared to make him a logical candidate to move inside at the pro level. Mauti was all over the field for Penn State a few weeks ago in the showdown with Alabama, racking up a career high 13 tackles. A week ago he posted six tackles, including a career high three tackles for loss and an interception that led to Penn State's winning drive in the win over Temple.

Mauti, according to Penn State Director of Athletic Medicine Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, is expected to undergo surgery in the next two weeks. His rehabilitation is expected to take a minimum of nine months.

This is the second time Mauti has torn an ACL. He tore the ligament in his right knee during fall camp in 2009 and missed the entire season.

Mauti entered the week as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 9 inside linebacker prospect for the class of 2013.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:49 am

OSU WR/RS Rodgers allowed "limited" practice

Oregon State wideout and returner James Rodgers -- the older brother of former Beaver and current Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers -- has been granted clearance to practice in a "limited fashion" when camp opens Monday, according to head coach Mike Riley.

The 5-07, 188 pound James hasn't received the nation-wide attention that his brother did during their respective careers at Oregon State, but James has actually been the more statistically productive of the two. Like his brother (who was drafted in the fifth round, No. 145 overall), James was viewed as a potential later round pick due to his lack of preferred size, but is a legitimate playmaker who could surprise in the NFL. What the Rodgers brothers lack in stature, they certainly make up for in toughness and instincts. Jacquizz has already impressed Atlanta coaches and scouts during the preseason, according to Peter King of SportsIllustrated.com.

Unfortunately, James suffered a horrific knee injury against Arizona last season that ruined his chance at joining Jacquizz in the 2011 draft. James was granted a medical redshirt after tearing two ligaments -- reportedly including the ACL -- in his left knee. He underwent the first of two surgeries on October 28. The next one occurred in late February. Since, Rodgers has been ahead of schedule in his recovery, but Riley has understandably been hesitant to push his All-Pac-10 star too hard.
“We will have more information after another meeting with the physician and our trainer at some point next week,” Riley said.
James was voted to the First-Team all-conference squad after the 2009 season after breaking the school record with 91 receptions for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. He also set the school record for the most all-purpose yards in one season by accumulating 2,328 yards as a receiver, punt returner, kick returner and runner during the 2009 season. He entered the 2010 season second in the country among active players with 5,077 career all-purpose yards. Due to the questions about his injury, however, Rodgers is currently only rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 54 receiver potentially available for the 2012 draft.

Rodgers is not expected to resume all of his past roles with the Beavers this season. As Bob Clark of The Register-Guard notes, Riley would rather use Rodgers at flanker rather than returner next season due in part to their plan to ease him back onto the field and because the Beavers like their depth at punt and kick returner.

The Beavers begin their season at home against Sacramento State on September 3.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 8:18 pm

Romeus out for season with torn ACL

In his first game back after undergoing surgery to repair a disk in his spinal column, Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus tore the ACL in his right knee.

His 2010 season is over. Due to the fact that he redshirted in 2006, his collegiate career may be over, as well.

A 6-5, 265 pound senior defensive end, entered the year among the highest touted defensive ends in the country. It isn't difficult to see why. Despite having only played one year of high school football, Romeus earned all-conference honors each of his three starting seasons with the Panthers, averaging 45 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks during that time. Romeus earned the 2009 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year with 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception despite often being double-teamed.

Romeus was clearly not himself in Pittsburgh's season-opener against Utah and had surgery on his lower back a week later. He triumphantly returned to the field last week against Connecticut and suffered the injury while rushing the passer.

The full extent of his new injury was only released today.

Romeus is expected to consult with several other doctors to gain other opinions before making a decision as to when he'll undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament.

Romeus may elect to try and get a rare sixth year of eligibility and return to Pittsburgh next season. There is precedence for the NCAA granting a sixth season due to medical hardships.

He also may elect to simply enter the draft. In this case, Romeus' final stock won't be determined until NFL doctors get a chance to review his knee at the Combine and in the medical re-check that occurs in the final weeks prior to the draft.
Posted on: August 21, 2010 2:40 pm

Best to temper expectations for Herzlich/Cooper

The advances in medicine, technology and rehabilitation of athletes has grown exponentially over the past ten years. So much so, that it is often easy to expect too much too soon of athletes recovering from severe injury.

I'm as guilty of it as anyone. I placed Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich in my initial 2011 first round mock draft * before he'd taken a single snap following his successful recovery from Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

Herzlich and Miami running back Graig Cooper -- who is attempting to play this season despite suffering a torn ACL in his right knee only six months ago in the Champs Sports Bowl -- are inspirational stories. Their dedication and spectacular talent make them two of the easiest players in the country to root for.

Herzlich, as has been widely reported , is already struggling in his return to the field. It isn't the cancer -- he recently underwent tests to confirm the cancer is gone and passed -- but a fractured right foot that is now the problem. It had been incorrectly reported elsewhere that Herzlich's broken foot was somehow connected to the cancer that had been discovered in his left leg. That isn't the case his mother, Sandy, told Steve Conroy of BostonHerald.com. 

Conroy quotes Herzlich's mother as saying, "The two (the cancer and the broken foot) are completely unrelated."

Still, the broken foot has kept Herzlich off the field. He hopes to return to the practice field the week before Boston College opens their season against Weber State September 4. The Eagles coaches will no doubt be anxious to reward Herzlich for his dedication with early playing time, but it simply isn't realistic to think he is going to step onto the field and immediately revert back to the form that helped him capture the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Similarly, it isn't fair to assume that Miami's Cooper will have the same speed and agility this year that he'd shown throughout his impressive career with the Hurricanes. While Cooper has remained adament that he plans to play in every game this season, Miami coaches are still easing him into practice. Cooper, according to reports , has seen time on the practice field, but is limited to drills and has not participated in any true scrimmaging.

Prior to their injuries, these two ACC stars would have ranked among NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors for the 2011 draft. Perhaps they'll prove - with time - worthy of that grade again.

But for now, let's simply acknowledge the spectacular recovery each has already shown and be sure that our expectations for their play in 2010 is realistic.

* One editor's note on my initial 2011 mock draft linked to above. While the date on the article says July 12, in actuality I wrote this within 48 hours of the conclusion of the 2010 draft. With significantly more scouting completed since that time, there are plenty of updates that will soon be made.
Posted on: February 27, 2010 5:58 pm

OLB Ricky Sapp: knee was 60% during season

Clemson pass rush specialist Ricky Sapp told the media today that he played the entire 2009 season on a right knee that was "at 60% strength."

Sapp tore his ACL against Virginia November 22, 2008 and had surgery to repair the ligament damage on December 11. He made it back on the field to start all 14 games this season, posting a career high 60 tackles and 15 tackles for loss.

Sapp was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl, but turned down the opportunity in an effort to strengthen his knee.

Not surprisingly, Sapp has been thoroughly checked over by team doctors since arriving in Indianapolis. He estimated the number of times he's had his knee checked so far this week at "20-30."

Said Sapp, "I'll be honest with you, I was laying down and I was like 'He just pulled my knee several times, and you are going to do it again too?'"

Sapp says his knee is now 100% and that he will be working out this week.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2009 11:45 pm

Gresham, Thurmond despite injury, entering draft

Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham and Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III are not letting their season-ending knee injuries keep them from exploring their NFL options. Both, in fact, have elected to enter the 2010 draft rather than apply for a medical hardship and return to college next season, the schools announced Wednesday.

Gresham, given a first round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee, suffered a knee injury in the week prior to the Oklahoma's opener against BYU. He underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage soon thereafter and is expected to be fully recovered in time for the Combine.

A strong performance in workouts and clean medical grades from team doctors will likely keep Gresham in the first round. There is no doubt that when healthy, he is the elite tight end prospect eligible for the 2010 draft.

Thurmond's injury has received considerably less national attention. The pre-season All-American was a four-year starter and leaves Oregon with a school-record five touchdown returns for his career. A playmaking cornerback and return specialist, Thurmond had already returned each for a score this season, returning a punt for a score against Utah and an interception for a touchdown against Purdue. Thurmond was injured returning the opening kickoff this past weekend against Cal. He considered leaving Oregon early with fellow defensive backs Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd (each of whom were selected in the 2nd round) after earning a third round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Thurmond's injury is also much more serious than the cartilage tear suffered by Gresham. Thurmond tore the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.

The severity of Thurmond's injury is certain to create doubt with NFL teams as to his draft status. Even with intense rehabilitation, Thurmond won't realistically be ready to workout for scouts prior to next April's draft.

When healthy, Thurmond has proven himself to be among the nation's best cover corners and worthy of Top 100 consideration. His greatest asset, however, has always been his pure athleticism.

If unable to prove this ability in pre-draft workouts, however, Thurmond is likely to slip into the late rounds or perhaps even out of the draft entirely.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com