PULLMAN – The play itself seemed innocent enough, a little off-tackle run by the goal line in the first scrimmage of fall camp last year.
The result, though, might have doomed the Washington State University season from the start.
Then-junior linebacker Will Derting, a team captain, a preseason All-American on some lists and the centerpiece of the Cougars defense, thought it was just as normal a play. Until a pile of players fell onto his left arm, and, as it turned out, dislocated that wrist.
“It just kept hurting and hurting,” Derting recalled earlier this week. “I thought it would stop. I went over to the sideline and they cut (off the tape) and I was sitting there thinking it feels weird and there’s this big bump here.
“By the time I got to the locker room I had to have (Pat) Bennett take my pads off for me. I just couldn’t move it.”
The “bump” was a result of the scaphoid and lunate bones separating, an injury that forced Derting to play the 2004 season with a cast over his hand and arm. Multiple surgical procedures were needed after the season. He was held out of spring practices and it isn’t until now, almost a year later, that the damage from that off-tackle play appears to be gone.
That’s in time for the beginning of fall camp, which kicks off at 9 a.m. today, but even now WSU has some doubt lingering as to how healthy Derting’s wrist will be.
“He’s been fully cleared, is good to go, and had a great summer there,” WSU head trainer Bill Drake said. “It’s still a tough injury to have, and it’s really hard to test injuries until they bang and hit again. When we do that, then we’ll know for sure. We don’t expect any residual effects, but until we start hitting again, that’s the time we’ll know if it’s holding up.”
Derting lost nearly 20 pounds through the course of the 2004 season without the ability to lift weights, and having made the switch from outside to middle linebacker, he also found himself unable to tackle with just one hand at his disposal.
“I was able to play, but I couldn’t play. I was playing 60 percent,” he said. “Right now is the first time that I feel real good about starting to add muscle, add mass back. The first few weeks I was just trying to get used to stuff and get it back in motion a little bit. It feels really good.”
Derting said he still hasn’t shaken off last year’s 5-6 mark – “we could have very easily won three, four more games” – but being back on the field for the first time since the Apple Cup might just be the remedy he needs.
“I can get back in there and start seeing stuff, start automatically seeing stuff instead of trying to picture in your mind, watching on film,” Derting said. “We’ll see when we get pads on.”
Two Cougars are not ready for the beginning of training camp because of injuries, and two more could end up sitting out for part of camp as well.
Senior wide receiver Thomas Ostrander has a disc problem in his lower back that flared up over the summer and he could miss significant time, although the injury will be re-evaluated later in the week. Ostrander had back surgery two years ago. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Colin Donovan will miss the entire season because of a knee injury.
Freshman guard Dan Rowlands has an abdominal injury and senior wide receiver Greg Prator has a hand injury. Their status for camp remains uncertain.
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