Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's been a rough offseason already for college football, as controversies ranging from the Fiesta Bowl fiasco* to Jim Tressel's dishonesty to yet more pay-for-play allegations have dominated headlines.
Which is why it's such a pleasure reading about Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr., who made his return to the Spartan practice field yesterday after four years away from the game spent battling bone cancer in his left leg. Per the Detroit Free-Press:
He participated in MSU’s spring practice — including contact sessions — after the NCAA reversed his medical disqualification. He had been disqualified so as not to count against the team’s scholarship limit while he recovered.
Coach Mark Dantonio and the players called the scene “emotional” for the offensive lineman, even though Ray didn’t want it to be a big deal.
“It’s been a long time coming, four years,” Dantonio said. “More than anything, it’s a starting point to be back on the field. Also, it gives hope to anybody that’s in a tough situation in their life. If you just keep pushing, push through adversity, you have a chance.”
A fourth-year senior eligibility-wise, Ray still has an uphill battle to earn any significant playing time; Dantonio said the plan was to work him back into the flow of practice "gradually" so that both he and the coaching staff could learn exactly what he's capable and not capable of after the layoff.
But after a series of chemotherapy treatments and surgeries that threatened his ability to walk again, much less play football, it's probably not wise to put anything past Ray. Eye on Football wishes him the best of luck.
*Come to think of it, shouldn't we just start calling it the "Fiasco Bowl" instead?