After Terence Davis collapsed to the turf and subsequently limped away from practice on Monday, coaches and trainers said they would wait for MRI results before coming to any conclusions. Unfortunately for Wake Forest football, the results are in and they are not good. Davis has torn his ACL and will have season ending surgery in the upcoming weeks. He is not expected to return to the field until 2010 spring practices at the earliest.
I have not been able to talk to any players or coaches today to get their reactions to this disappointing news, but I don't think I have to in order to have some idea how they are feeling. There's no way around it; Davis is an incredibly talented receiver and was expected to have a huge impact this season. His loss is a major blow to the Demon Deacon offense.
Several times last season head coach Jim Grobe hinted at the possibility of removing Davis's redshirt and letting him play as a true freshman. In the spring everyone got to see why, as Davis emerged as a speedy receiver with good hands who can make big plays. In the first intrasquad scrimmage of the fall on Saturday, Davis was the leading receiver. He had racked up six catches and 75 yards.
Davis's injury seems to be one of those freak things that just happen sometimes. There was no contact when he crumpled to the turf, just an attempted cut that went terribly wrong. I do not know if that makes the injury more or less bearable. On the one hand it means no one has to feel bad for injuring him and the coaches cannot be blamed for running too physical a practice, but on the other hand it is never fun for a fluke like this to have a huge impact on a team.
This is also one of the inherent dangers in redshirting most freshmen. Because Davis redshirted last seasons, and there were never any indications he had been injured, he will most likely not be eligible for an additional medical redshirt and will lose one of his years of eligibility. Had he played last season, this injury year could have been used as his redshirt.
Already the injury has led the coaching staff to make some changes. One of the big headlines today is that the coaches moved Skylar Jones to receiver for today's practice. It is a somewhat interesting move because Wake is not all of a sudden thin at receiver. Clearly this is not just a desperation move, but a calculated decision by the staff.
From this we learn several things. For one, the coaching staff must have more or less cemented Ryan McManus in the backup quarterback role for this season. Furthermore, it looks like Jones's chances of playing quarterback for the Demon Deacons are all but over. With a string of solid prospects in the classes behind him, it seems unlikely that Jones will ever be under center for the Demon Deacons.
But this also means the coaches must really like the idea of Jones playing receiver. They had toyed with the idea previously, but Jones was always insistent on staying at quarterback. Davis's injury may have presented the perfect opportunity for the switch to finally happen. Since they have other options at receiver, the coaches would be unlikely to make this move unless they have high expectations for Jones in this role.
If an injury like this is going to happen, it is probably better for it to happen before the season starts rather than in week two. The team can now readjust, settle down, and go on with preparing for the season. It is undoubtedly a painful blow, but hopefully Terence Davis will be back on the field next spring with the same speed and athleticism he has already displayed.
Best of luck to him on the road to recovery.