Cly­burn thrilled to make re­turn

Se­nior line­backer missed a year due to ill­ness

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Bro­hard

fort collins» When stretch­ing ends for Colorado State’s football team, the tra­di­tion is to bring a player into the mid­dle of the pack to lead Ram Jacks.

As strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Ryan Davis ush­ered Deonte Cly­burn to lead the task in the first day of spring drills Tues­day, the se­nior was greeted with loud cries of “He’s back.”

Yes, he is, and the se­nior line­backer couldn’t be more grate­ful.

“It was every­thing I imag­ined it was go­ing to be like,” the na­tive of Louisville, Ky., said. “A lot of times sit­ting in your room, a lot of times go­ing to prac­tice last fall, last spring, it was al­ways what if — what if I come back, what if I don’t? To­day just re­ally so­lid­i­fied the mo­ment. It was re­ally sur­real. I got to run around a lot. I feel good, I feel lighter, I feel faster.

“Just the recog­ni­tion my team­mates gave me and how they have my back right now — it’s a feel­ing un­ex­plain­able.”

Af­ter Cly­burn sat since the end of the 2015 sea­son with a blood-clot con­di­tion, the Rams get back one of their emo­tional lead­ers — not just de­fen­sively, but through­out the locker room.

That meant the mo­ment he stepped into the mid­dle wasn’t all his.

“It means a lot. He’s been a leader on and off the field. Last year he led and was not able to play, and now to have him back means a whole lot to the en­tire team,” safety Jake Sch­lager said. “It’s an awesome thing to see when football is taken away from some­body, it can be taken away from any­body. It’s real life. To see him come back and him be able to play football again is just an awesome feel­ing, not just for him, but for the en­tire team.”

There were spells af­ter the news was ini­tially de­liv­ered to him that the out­look wasn’t good. As Cly­burn ex­plained, test af­ter test might have been bet­ter, but they still weren’t good. He could still feel the blood clots work­ing their way through his body, even as he did all he could to re­main in shape phys­i­cally and men­tally as he waited and hoped for the day he would re­ceive good news.

He had to pre­pare him­self for the worst, too. He didn’t like life with­out football, but with a dream of do­ing an­nounc­ing like his fa­ther and un­cle do back home, he com­pleted some internships, nar­rated “The Grind” se­ries done by the pro­gram and learned to edit video.

He never shied away from the pro­gram. He was at ev­ery prac­tice, at­tended all the meet­ings and trav­eled with the team. He car­ried around prac­tice scripts and helped coach who he could, and in the process, he found he was be­com­ing an even bet­ter stu­dent of the game.

His ef­forts with­out pads were just as im­pres­sive as when he was wear­ing them.

“The thing about him, his faith and his de­ter­mi­na­tion through­out all of this has been re­mark­able. It has been some­thing a lot of our guys have drawn strength from,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said. “Deonte, he’s a guy who was told he was prob­a­bly never go­ing to play again, but it didn’t set him back, it didn’t cause him to lose faith. Yes, he was dis­cour­aged. He con­tin­ued to work, he con­tin­ued to be in­volved with this football team. He con­tin­ued to be a leader.”

A few weeks ago, the doc­tor called him to tell him the out­look seemed good, but to wait a few days. When the pos­i­tive news fi­nally came, he was told not to let any­body know (but he called his mom, he scream­ing with joy to match her tears of hap­pi­ness), and that in a week, he’d get of­fi­cial clear­ance.

Now he no longer feels the sen­sa­tion of clots run­ning in his blood stream, just the rush of adren­a­line from play­ing the game.

Colorado State se­nior Deonte Cly­burn, right, leads the team in Ram Jacks on Tues­day as the Rams open spring camp. It was Cly­burn’s first prac­tice in more than a year as he sat out all of 2016 with a blood-clot con­di­tion. Love­land Re­porter-Her­ald

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.