The junior defensive end was at Kansas State, fresh off a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, where he was a junior college All-American and made 23 sacks in two seasons. He was the Wildcats’ top-rated juco transfer, but a slipped disk and a pinched nerve in his back put his playing future in serious jeopardy.
He underwent surgery, but when the operation was finished doctors told him it might not be wise to continue playing football. He stuck with it, though. He has gone through rehab, and is feeling stronger now. After sitting out a year with a redshirt, he’s ready to compete for playing time on the Wildcats’ defensive line.
Not long ago, David discussed both his comeback and future with K-Stated:
What did the rehab process involve?
I had to be in the whirl pool twice a day for 30 minutes, just running against currents, trying to get my back stronger and more flexible. I had a herniated disc, a slipped disc and a pinched nerve. They (doctors) cleaned the disc out so that it will grow back to be just the way it was. It was pretty painful.
That whole rehab, I couldn’t really bend and stuff until my back got strong. I had to stand up straight as much as possible. Even when I slept I had to wear a thing that kept me from bending, because if I turned the wrong way it would hit my nerve and send pain down to my legs.
Did you know that with enough work you could get healthy and play for K-State this season?
I always knew I could play, but when doctors told me how bad my back was they were telling me football wasn’t a first option for me. But I always had passion for it. As long as the trainers were going to push me hard enough to get me back on the football field, I was going to try.
How does your back feel today?
It’s feeling great. I’m feeling great. I’m feeling really good, but they’re still limiting me on stuff until they feel I can go at full speed. I feel like I’m there, but they say different.
Are you still limited in any areas?
I really can’t pivot. If I pivot all my body weight, I can’t go to my left side because my back isn’t strong enough yet. But I can spin and come on to the ball real fast.
If the season started today, would you play?
Yeah, I would play. They have a lot of trust in me to be able to come out and play. They know my back injury is serious and stuff, but they listen to what I say. They base it off how I feel and what I tell them. I’m not going to lie to them. If I don’t feel good, I’m going to tell them. But it’s been feeling good so far.
Do you think you can start at defensive end this season?
I feel like I can. It’s a whole lot of work, because there’s a whole lot I need to learn, but I feel like I can. Since I’ve been out last season I feel like I’ve been catching on pretty fast and at a good pace.
What do you think of the defensive line as a group? Will it be improved this year?
We’re looking real good as a unit. They have me really excited. I can’t wait to see what we can do this fall.