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Ryan Reynolds Q&A
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Sooner Linebacker Talks About Rehab And Plans For Another Comeback
Oklahoma linebacker Ryan Reynolds will be a senior in 2009, but heís much older and much more experienced than that.
Reynolds, a veteran from Las Vegas, hopes to return this fall from his third knee injury ó two torn ACLs ó and resume his job at one of footballís most physically demanding positions.
Watching Austin Box and Mike Balogun mature under fire last season, itíd be easy to assume that Reynolds is on the outside looking in. But that assumption would be hasty and, in all likelihood, wrong.
He is, after all, the player who mentored first-year starters Travis Lewis and Keenan Clayton for half the 2008 season, all while playing middle linebacker at a high level. He is, remember, the first OU linebacker ever under Brent Venables to grade out a single game with 100 percent efficiency.
Reynolds, who reinjured his knee in OUís loss to Texas last October, is right no schedule with his rehab and he intends to be back on the field when the Sooners open 2009 at Dallas Cowboys Stadium against BYU.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Reynolds to discuss his progress and much more:
Sooner Spectator: Howís the rehab going?
Ryan Reynolds: Itís going good, a lot better than it has the previous two knees. Because by now, I know what works and what doesnít and what I need to do. Iím working a lot harder than I did the past two surgeries. Itís night and day different.
SS: How does what youíre doing now relate to the ACL rehab you did before?
Reynolds: Itís a big difference, just night and day how it feels. Because I know what to expect, obviously, but itís amazed me how itís come along.
SS: What are some of the things youíve learned?
Reynolds: Actually, the main thing is since my ACL surgery two years ago, weíve gotten like three new rehab machines, some real nice machines. Last time, we only had one thing called a Biodex machine, where you just do leg curls and stuff like this. This time, we have three different ones. We have a full leg-press machine that dumps into this computer system, we have a quad (machine) along with the Biodex machine. And we have a new balance machine now. The types of things that Iíve been able to do now are a lot different.
SS: How similar were the actual ACL injuries themselves?
Reynolds: Last time, I tore my ACL along with my meniscus. This time, it was just the isolated ACL.
SS: You were having an amazing year when it happened. Was there some satisfaction to be playing so well, particularly after having endured so many injuries?
Reynolds: Yeah, it was just the approach I took to it. I wasnít gonna let it hold me back. Iím kind of taking the same approach now, and more, doing all the extra things I can do. I mean, the last ACL, I gained like 20 pounds up to 245, and then coming back off of that, getting back into shape was real hard. This time, Iím even watching my weight, watching what I eat, doing all the cardio I can do, and Iím at like 225 right now. So coming back this time should be easier than it was last time.
SS: You said last fall you felt quicker and could react to the things you were seeing a lot better than the years you were injured. Was that a big part of your success last year?
Reynolds: Yeah, definitely. Last year, that was the first full summer of workouts that Iíd gotten before the season started. The season before that, I was out the entire summer and got cleared for two-a-days. I mean, that extra three or four months of doing stuff, that really helps out.
SS: You graded out at 100 percent at Baylor last year. What exactly does that mean?
Reynolds: Well, initially it was 100, but Coach V went back and found some things. I mean, obviously, nobody can grade out perfect. But it just means you do all your assignments, you call all your fronts the right way, you make the tackles that you need to. You get all the checks right. You check when youíre supposed to check in and out of coverages, you check the d-line in and out of stunts. Thatís pretty much it. And not miss any tackles.
SS: When the ACL first happened against Texas, you went back in and actually finished the half. Then you went out for good early in the second half. What happened?
Reynolds: Toward the end of the first half, somebody came down on the back of it and I think thatís when I actually tore it. I think there was only a minute-and-a-half left, and I played that out. They got a field goal, I believe, and we went into the locker room. It felt weird, but I hadnít cut on it or anything yet. So I felt like I could get back in and play. So I played the first series and they didnít run the ball, I donít think, on the first series, so I didnít have to go side to side. I just had to drop back into coverage. Then the first play of the second series, they came out and ran like a sweep or a counter to the outside, and the running back cut back and I tried to plant and I just felt my whole knee slide and I knew it was gone. But I donít think thatís when it actually tore. I tore it in the first half.
SS: What were you feeling sitting on the Cotton Bowl turf, and later on the sideline?
Reynolds: Honestly, just sorry for myself. Wondering if Iíd be able to rehab, or go through the whole rehab process again and come back as strong as Iíd felt the last time. That kind of lasted until the end of the game and on the bus ride back. I just told myself and talked to my parents and Coach V and the trainers, and we were just like, I have to just set my mind to it again and get it done.
SS: There was a moment during the game when Coach Stoops came up and gave you a hug and a slap on the helmet. Can you talk about your interaction with him at that moment?
Reynolds: Oh, it was mid-game. He just said he was sorry and felt bad for me, but he knew Iíd be able to come back strong again.
SS: With all the unbelievably hard work and pain youíd endured the past two years, you had it all taken away in one game. Over the next few days, did you ever come close to giving up on football?
Reynolds: No. I think the only time I came close to saying that was like coming right on the sideline and they told me it was torn. That was real emotional for me, and my initial reaction was like, ĎThereís no way I can do it again.í But then after thinking about it, the reward that I had from coming back off two and being able to play and play well again, I knew I could be able to do it again.
SS: Grad assistant David White was your high school coach at Bishop Gorman; did you lean on him at all through the first few days?
Reynolds: Yeah, definitely. He came up and talked to me like right after the game for about 15 minutes before I went out and saw my parents. His encouragement and his words were that I could come back even stronger. He knew I could do it again. He said I had a strong mind, so he knew Iíd be able to do it. He was with me for the past two with encouragement, too, so that helped out a lot.
SS: The most energetic man on the planet may be Brent Venables; how much did he help keep your spirits up during this time?
Reynolds: A lot. He said the same things. It was all encouragement. None of it was putting me down at all or saying, ĎI donít think you can come back from it.í It was all, ĎYou can come back stronger; youíre gonna do it again; youíve done it twice already, whatís one more?í
SS: How soon do the doctors tell you, based on your current progress, that youíll be back and playing at full speed?
Reynolds: Well, Iíll be cleared for everything at the beginning of May. But Iíll start running in a couple days here. I just got fitted for my brace here this week. I get that in today sometime, and then Monday (Feb. 9) Iíll start doing straight-ahead running, and then itís just progressing for the next three months. After that, Iíll be cleared for May, June, July and August. Iíll get a good three or four months before the season starts.
SS: And you think thatíll be plenty of time to play Division I middle linebacker?
Reynolds: Yeah, thatís definitely enough time.
(Editor's Note: This Interview appears in the 2009 recruiting issue of Sooner Spectator, available now at newsstands. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)