Terps' Kelley to have knee surgery next week

QB confronts emotions stirred by being sidelined

College Football

May 01, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The emotions continued to swirl for Chris Kelley yesterday, three days after he'd torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

One moment, the Maryland quarterback struggled during a team meeting when the coaches talked about the team's season opener on Aug. 31 against Notre Dame. "I was about to walk out the room," he said, "because I couldn't take it."

Kelley, who has an operation scheduled for next Wednesday, joked later with reporters about the possibility of a speedy recovery - the season opener is less than four months away, though rehabilitation usually takes eight to 12 months. "With my luck, you never know."

It's been this way since Saturday, when Kelley tore his ACL slipping on the Byrd Stadium turf as he was taking a hit from cornerback Domonique Foxworth during the Red-White spring scrimmage.

He said he felt a sharp, quick pain, which gave way to anger and sadness at his third knee injury since the summer of 2000 - the other two happening with his left knee.

"Everything," Kelley said when asked to identify what he felt at the time. "I can't even describe what I was feeling."

Recognition, then disbelief hit Kelley, who entered the Red-White game atop the team's depth chart at quarterback, ahead of Scott McBrien and Orlando Evans. He'd gotten his first opportunity to shine, despite injuries sustained in an All-Star football game and in a beach accident.

The initial pain subsided, then he tried bending his knee and encountered the familiar.

"I knew that was it," said Kelley, who intends to apply for a medical redshirt (which would give him an additional year of eligibility) if he cannot play this season. "I felt the pop. It was tough to think about that, even going into the locker room and sitting in the trainer's office."

The surgery, which will be done by Dr. Leigh Ann Curl of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, involves the use of part of the patellar tendon to reconstruct the damaged ligament, just as it was done on the left knee.

The sophomore from Seneca Valley said that he intended to start re-strengthening his knee the day after the surgery, though he knew that using the patellar tendon - as opposed to a combination of hamstring tendons - would be tougher.

"It's a little more painful, and it takes a little longer," Kelley said, "but it's the one that's going to be the best for me in the long run."

Kelley's goals have become simpler, however, after having attempted only six passes in his three-year college career.

"I want to go out on that field, start some games and do what I can do to help this team," he said. "That's the biggest thing."

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