Injury not holding Carlynton's Lang back
Nick Lang was expecting to have a big year during the 2012 football season.
The Carlynton senior had a breakout year in 2011. He ran for 1,005 yards, had 208 receiving yards and led the Cougars with 12 touchdowns. It wasn't hard to imagine him having another monster season as a senior.
But the three letters a running back never wants to hear brought his season to a close before it even got started: ACL.
Lang tore his anterior cruciate ligament — a major ligament in the knee — during the Cougars' first scrimmage of the season against University Prep. As he returned an interception, he side-stepped trying to pick up extra yards. But then he felt a pop.
“I thought it was scar tissue in my knee breaking up,” Lang said. “That happens sometimes. It didn't feel like the first time I injured my knee.”
This is Lang's second encounter with an ACL tear. Last year, during Carlynton's Week 10 win over North Catholic, Lang suffered the same injury.
“It was really painful,” Lang said. “But it got better. I rested and rehabbed and scar tissue built up in my knee. I felt pretty good.”
When Lang suffered the injury, it didn't immediately register as being as serious as it turned out to be. He sat out the next scrimmage and Carlynton's opener against Fort Cherry, but he found out the bad news the following Monday.
Lang's mother sent him to get an MRI to make sure he wasn't in danger of causing further damage. It turned out to be a good decision as he discovered the level of his injury.
“I was telling her how much better my knee felt before we got the results back,” Lang said. “I really thought my knee felt good.”
There was no question he needed surgery, but Lang thought about trying to compete as a quarterback for the Cougars.
“It was in my head,” Lang said. “I am not a natural quarterback and never played the position but I wondered if I could make it. I decided I had to worry about my future and get the surgery done.”
Lang did get playing time in one game — Carlynton's 38-0 loss to Bishop Canevin. Instead of playing his typical running back spot, he was put into a quarterback shuffle with juniors Freddie McKissick and Kevin Schuster. It was a game he didn't want to miss due to the rivalry between the Cougars and Crusaders.
“It was different,” Lang said. “I have trouble seeing over the line. It was the first time I was ever nervous heading into a football game. When I play at running back, I am really comfortable. It was the complete opposite as quarterback.”
Lang recently went through the hour-and-50 minute surgery to repair his knee. The surgery should have kept him out of school for two weeks, but he returned after only a week in order to not fall too far behind.
Lang said he is getting ready to get back into the gym at some point to work on his upper body and can return to a normal workout in three months.
“Having been through this before, I know what to do and what not to do,” Lang said.
While the injury will sideline Lang for several months, he isn't letting itcloud his future. He is determined to play college football.
He had gotten looks from some Division II and III programs, but Lang wants more. Before the injury he had thought strongly about walking onto a Division I school, and he is still looking at that route.
Lang spoke highly of Ohio University as a school he really likes. It has his intended major — sports management — and is somewhere he really would like to walk on at.
“High school football is in the past now,” Lang said. “It is a memory. I am concentrating on getting ready to play college football. I might want to go to a junior college and get my grades as high as I can.
“I might want to walk on to a team and hopefully earn a scholarship.”
While an injury of his magnitude could be devastating to some athletes, Lang is only looking forward. Instead of wondering why it happened, he is concentrating on getting back on the field and becoming the best competitor he can be.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Lang said. “That's my philosophy. I might not know until I am 60, but stuff happens for a reason.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.