When Mocksville (N.C.) offensive lineman Cole Blankenship went down with a broken foot at the beginning of the season, he thought for sure his senior season was done for.
First and even second opinions made it seem like the foot would take too long to heal in order for him to make a return.
But the 3-star North Carolina State commit didn't listen, and with the help of steel plates in his cleats, he made his triumphant return to the field last week.
"It went good," Blankenship said. "I was a little nervous going into the game but I had it taped up and I had the steel plates in my shoes. It's still broken, but it's not that bad."
Doctors told Blankenship that he couldn't make his foot any worse by playing with the special shoe inserts, so he decided to give it a go. Now his plan is to finish out the season and participate in December's Shrine Bowl, all with a broken foot.
"I'm gonna tough it out," Blankenship said. "It will just take time to heal so once the season is over I'll rest and let it heal up."
Because of the injury, and the difficulty the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Blankenship had finding crutches, he hasn't been able to take a visit to N.C. State this season.
"I really wanted to go to the Florida State game," he said. "But I was in a wheelchair because I broke three pairs of crutches and I didn't want to Coach O'Brien to see me in a wheelchair."
The good news for Wolfpack fans is that even though he hasn't been able to visit, Blankenship is on track to graduate in December, and enroll at N.C. State in January.
"I'm not too worried about taking an official," he said. "I'm just getting ready to go up there for good once I graduate."
Blankenship said graduating early has been in his plans since last season, prior to giving his commitment to the Wolfpack.
"I've always known I was going to graduate early," he said. "I figured it would help my recruiting if coaches knew I would be there early and ready to get to work."
Even though he's been relegated to only watching the Wolfpack play on TV this season, he said he's very impressed with the team's play.
"They've done really well," he said. "They beat some good teams and lost to some teams they probably shouldn't have, but things are going in the right direction."
After initially being projected as a guard at the college level, Blankenship said he'll be playing center for the Wolfpack, and with the way the team has committed to running the ball this year, he's excited.
"They like to run the ball which is my strong suit," he said. "I'm not the biggest offensive lineman, that's why I'm going to play center. I like run blocking. I play with an attitude and I just like the smash mouth style and playing nasty."