football

Bigelow focused on getting back

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FRESNO, Calif. - He remembers the play called, the route he ran, his quarterback scrambling around the pocket trying to find an open receiver.
Brendon Bigelow remembers catching the pass, having multiple defenders engage him and then falling to the ground. He remembers the blood-curdling sound of the anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee pop, the sharp pains running through his leg, his attempt to strap his helmet back on trying to finish the playoff game.
He remembers he couldn't do it.
Bigelow remembers it all. Now on the path to recovery, the Fresno Central East running back is motivated more than ever to prove he's one of the West Coast's best backs as he prepares to return for his senior season. He's also out to show his knee is fine and he's going to come back stronger than ever.
"It was fourth-and-10 and I'm going to try to make a play," Bigelow said. "I was supposed to run a streak but I ended up cutting my route to go in. When I did that I saw my quarterback roll the other way so he threw it and I caught it and I took a couple steps forward and they just crumbled me, about four or five dudes.
"When I did that I thought I was done. I didn't know what an ACL was because they asked me if I heard a pop and I said no but I actually really did, I heard a pop, and I asked them if that was bad or something. I went to the doctor's and they explained to me what it was, that it was something critical and I asked him if I was ever going to be fast again."
In a strange way, Bigelow's recruitment picked up after the injury when his junior season highlight tape made it to college coaches. Washington offered and Bigelow jumped at the opportunity, committing to the Huskies and not regretting his decision.
His mother lives in the Seattle area, he's developed a strong relationship with the Washington coaching staff and the chance the Huskies took on him while he was injured meant a lot. Bigelow has offers from Cal and USC, has been to Cal's junior day, wants to visit with the Trojans and see other schools but he's sticking by his pledge to Washington.
"My mom lives down there and I don't get to see her as much," Bigelow said. "She hasn't really gotten to see my games. Her being so far away, I'd like her to see my games and to see me progress and grow.
"It opened my eyes to show that they actually really care and gave me a scholarship. The coaches are pretty cool up there and I'm trying to get up there so I can check out the facilities and get a feel for if that's the school for me."
Coach Casey Quinn said: "We had some people say we're going to see what's going on with his knee but since we made a video and we gave it to Washington they were like we have to get on this guy right away, he's a pretty good back and most schools said he's going to come back bigger, faster, stronger as long as he sticks to the game plan."
Tennessee, Miami and some others have also gotten involved but Washington is where he's committed and Cal and USC have been the two schools most involved in his recruitment.
"They do (stand out a lot)," Bigelow said of Cal. "I like them. They're pretty good. I like what they have to offer and I liked (the junior day). It was really cool. Their academic program is pretty good what they have to offer. The coaching staff is really good, too. They run the ball and I like that I-formation offense that they do.
"Right now (Southern Cal) hasn't contacted me much but when I did talk to them they said I was an amazing back and they would love to have me there. That was pretty cool. We'll see what happens. It's amazing how many backs they've had."
The game plan through the next few months is patience, slow and steady rehabilitation to make sure Bigelow, who had 1,327 total yards and 20 touchdowns last season, returns completely healed and healthy.
Quinn said he won't let Bigelow do anything without a doctor's note. Jogging should start next month but there's no rush. There will be light workouts on the side for spring practice. Bigelow walks fine, looks fine, doesn't wear a brace, has full flexibility in his leg and is itching for the chance to return but Quinn won't take any chances.
Bigelow won't, either. He wants to get back on the field and wants to make cuts and sprint but the 5-foot-10, 180-pound back knows what's best for him, too. No camps this summer. It's all preparation for a big senior season and a chance to prove his knee is not only fine but that he's back to 100 percent.
"I thought I was done when it happened," Bigelow said. "I thought I was going to be left in the dust, another good player down, just lost. That didn't happen. I regrouped and stayed humble. I just kept doing what I was doing.
"I was just anxious to get back on the field. I couldn't sit down and watch TV all the time. I had to be walking or just listening to my radio and working my leg a little bit. I never stayed on the couch, I had to do something. They were telling me not to rush it. If I injured it again it would be a done deal. I've been taking it one day at a time and letting it heal."
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