Three days after Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) defensive end Josh Sweat had surgery on Oct. 7 for a dislocated knee and a torn ACL, his parents found out the same thing that opposing offensive linemen already knew. When Sweat gets his mind made up, it’s hard to stop him.
“When he had his surgery, the doctor said not to go to school for two weeks,” said Sweat’s mother, Carlette. “Josh got home from surgery on Thursday and went to school on Friday. I called the doctor and he said, ‘OK, just let him go in a wheelchair.’ Josh said, ‘I have to get an A’ and he was upset because he had gotten an A-minus in English. He didn’t want to go to New York for his surgery because he didn’t want to miss school.”
Sweat was honored Wednesday in a ceremony at his school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour. He received his jersey for the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game, scheduled for Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Because of his injury, Sweat does not expect to play in the game.
The same drive that has made the 6-5, 245-pound Sweat a preseason ALL-USA football player, a state shot put champion and an honor student at Oscar Smith should help him in his rehabilitation. For now, his left leg is in a moveable brace, but in a few weeks, the brace is due to come off and the real therapy begins.
“No one wants to get dropped from being No. 1, even if you can’t avoid the inevitable.” – Josh Sweat
“At this stage, I can’t really rush it,” Sweat said. “There’s not much I can do with my leg anyway. I basically listen to what my doctor says. When I start to walk on it in a couple a of weeks, then I can start doing different workouts and stuff like that. Right now, I’m working trying to get feeling in the hamstring and the leg and trying to get flexibility.”
Tigers coach Richard Morgan said not playing has been the hardest adjustment for Sweat.
“He was a little down at first because he loves, loves football,” Morgan said. “He was down when he first sustained the injury yet hyper because he wanted to get back. His recovery is something he’s looking forward to because that’s what’s going to get him back.”
Though Sweat still plans to enroll in college in January, the injury has pushed back his timetable in deciding where he’ll attend college. Sweat has three upcoming visits in November to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia. A planned visit to Oregon was canceled, Sweat said, because it is still too awkward for sit out a long plane flight with his injury.
“All of the colleges have been very understanding in realizing that this is not a career-ending injury,” said Sweat’s father, William Washington. “If anything, his recruiting has picked up a bit. Colleges are very supportive of who he is and getting him back to a good quality of life. That’s our first priority.”
Sweat is still listed as the No. 1 player in the country according to 247Sports.com’s aggregate ranking of various recruiting services.
“No one wants to get dropped from being No. 1, even if you can’t avoid the inevitable,” Sweat said. “Everyone wants to be No. 1 and it is nice to say I had that honor for a little while. In a couple of months, it won’t matter. They’ll be on to the 2016 class in January.”
After a season-opening loss to Miami powerhouse Booker T. Washington, Oscar Smith has won six games in a row and entered the Super 25 rankings this week at No. 49. Sweat wasn’t supposed to risk further injury by being on the sidelines, but he couldn’t stay away.
“All you can do is watch them and be proud of what is going on,” Sweat said. “But you can’t help but feel left out when everyone out there is getting cheers.”
“He was supposed to call me to pick him up after school (but instead went to the game),” his mother said. “I didn’t want to go there and drag him off the field. I couldn’t keep him away. He wanted to be there with his friends.”