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WVU's Garrison says knee is 'fine' after reconstructive surgery

| Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
West Virginia's Dustin Garrison pushes away Bowling Green's Aaron Foster on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — All eyes were on running back Dustin Garrison during West Virginia's first practice of the season Thursday.

Would he run at full speed after suffering a torn ACL and sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee before last year's Orange Bowl? Would he be hesitant hitting the hole? Would he favor his surgically repaired knee over the other?

Garrison, who led the Mountaineers in rushing with 742 yards as a freshman, passed his first test by displaying the same burst and cutting ability that let him rush for 291 yards against Bowling Green, the second-best total in school history.

“Honestly, I'm not worried about anything. I'm just running like nothing ever happened,” he said Friday. “Cutting is fine. Everything is fine.”

Said senior running back Shawne Alston: “I saw a couple of bursts when he was coming out of holes. One play he cut a little bit, I said, ‘Oh, yeah.' ”

Coach Dana Holgorsen praised Garrison's quick recovery while voicing concern over how he will react to contact.

“He looked like he was cutting pretty good, but it's the hitting that people need to get over,” he said.

Alston, who rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns in the 70-33 throttling of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, said getting over the mental aspect of a knee injury can be the biggest hurdle.

“There's going to be a little voice in the back of your head, wondering how it's going to hold up,” he said. “A lot of players will tell you that it's not there, but I've been through it, so I know it's there. Usually after the first hit, you're right back. All it takes is one play.”

Garrison said he experienced some soreness the morning after his first practice, and he was having trouble making sudden stops.

“Aggravation with the knee brace — I'm still trying to get used to it,” he said. “It was so satisfying going out there and making the cuts that I was making before, and not having my knee bother me at all was exciting.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com.

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