Plum grad overcomes injuries to take field
Ryan Ewing could've just thrown up his hands and decided to give up the game he loves.
The 2008 Plum graduate and defensive tackle on the Edinboro University football team has been through a lot over the past couple of seasons.
Shoulder and knee injuries kept him out of action since 2009, but, Ewing said, he's not going to go away quietly.
He hopes to make his presence felt on the field Saturday when Edinboro opens its 2012 season at Bloomsburg in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East-West crossover game.
“It's just good to be back,” Ewing said.
After taking a redshirt as a freshman in 2008, Ewing worked his way up the defensive line depth chart and earned starting time in 2009. He finished with 20 tackles, including four for a loss, and one sack.
Ewing suffered the shoulder injury in the second game that season, but played through it. He started the first 11 games, but was limited in Edinboro's final two contests.
He rehabbed the shoulder after the season and decided to go against having surgery. But the shoulder became a problem during 2010 spring practice and surgery became a reality.
Ewing missed the 2010 season, but he was able to get back on the field in the offseason and came into 2011 preseason camp in good shape and feeling good.
However, misfortune befell Ewing again, as he went down with a severe knee injury during one of the first practices.
“It was a freak play,” Ewing said. “The running back tripped and fell. His helmet collided with the side of my knee, and it blew my knee out. It was unfortunate, but I had to keep moving forward,”
He moved forward after reconstructive surgery, and he was held out of spring drills.
Ewing came into camp in early August with no restrictions.
“It feels pretty good right now,” Ewing said. “I am a very aggressive player, and I always go full speed. You really can't think about (the injury) or it will slow you down. At this level of college football, you have to be as fast as you can be.”
Ewing, at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, will be in the mix for playing time at defensive tackle, and Scots defensive line coach Keith Braxton said he's excited to see Ewing back on the field.
“Ryan came into camp well conditioned and playing at a high level,” Braxton said.
“He's had a great camp. He is explosive, strong and is making plays. He's really maintained everything despite all the time off. He didn't have to start from scratch.
Ewing said not being able to play the past two seasons was a tough experience.
“It was pretty painful to watch my teammates on the field and know I couldn't help them,” he said. “Sometimes, the cards are dealt in a favor that you don't really want, but you have to man up and realize the circumstances. It allowed me to cherish every time I do get to play.”
Edinboro went 7-4 last season and was 4-3 in the PSAC West. The Scots are picked fourth in the PSAC West for this season in a vote by the conference coaches.
“Ryan put in a lot of time and effort to get back on the field,” Braxton said. “After all this time, he has a chance to go out and lay it on the line. He's one of the hardest workers on the field.”
Ewing is in his last year of football eligibility at Edinboro, and he knows it will be time to move on and start his life's career. The political science major with a minor in history is set to graduate after the fall semester.
“I don't know when it will be my last play, whether it's in practice, the first game, the second game or, hopefully, the PSAC championship game or the NCAA playoffs,” Ewing said. “I want to go until I can't go anymore.”
“These two years off have made me angry, to be honest. I am just ready for the fight of this season. I'm ready for this battle. I have a lot to prove. I've been out of the game for two years, and I have to make some people remember why I'm here.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.