During his final days of summer break, incoming Oakdale High School senior Darus Nelson spent plenty of time running the track around the Corral. Nelson, starting running back for the defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion Mustangs, is coming off a major knee injury that required offseason surgery.
Friday night, Oct. 31 the Mustangs traveled to Lathrop to clash with the Spartans. That night, the Mustangs shut out the Spartans 56-0 on a cold damp Halloween. It turned out to be a scary night as well, as early in the first half, Nelson went down holding his left knee. Little to everyone’s knowledge at the time, Nelson had torn his ACL.
“I heard a pop when I planted my leg while trying to avoid a tackle. The guy caught me and outside my knee just caved in,” recalled Nelson.
The following week, Nelson suited up for the Mustangs for a home game against Central Catholic, a trend in which he did over the course of the team’s season, as Nelson didn’t miss a game of the 2014 campaign.
When the season came to a close, Nelson got the knee checked out at Kaiser Hospital. There he got a CAT scan and MRI done on his knee. A few days later, he got the news.
“I got a call from a doctor, who was not my regular doctor. I was confused because the first thing he said was ‘we are talking reconstructive surgery on your knee and other options for rehab.’ I thought he had the wrong number, to be honest. When I told him I thought he had the wrong number, he said ‘oh, I must be the first one to tell you, I am so sorry to break the news to you but you tore your ACL and we need to do surgery on it if you want to play again’,” Nelson explained.
It was a frustrating situation for the teen, who was looking at a long road back to the gridiron.
“I was so mad. I was very frustrated, and my heart dropped when I called my mom and she confirmed what the doctor had said,” Nelson added.
Shortly after the surgery, Nelson began the recovery process. Fortunately for Nelson, he took care of his body on a regular basis prior to the injury and recovered ahead of schedule. He began walking within his first week. Every morning he and his teammates worked out together, and he can still be found working out in the gym in the afternoons as well.
“This offseason, I have worked out so much. That’s what I have done every day, work out and hang out. I am ready for this season. The knee is strong but it is still a process. I am comfortable with my cuts but it is still a process.”
Nelson and the Mustangs return to start the 2015 campaign under the lights on Friday, Aug. 28 when they take on longtime rival, Sonora, in the first of the preseason contests.