Darius Wade tried to avoid the Florida State rush but could not. His leg bent back awkwardly. He heard a snap. He felt the pain rush up to his knee and panicked.
“Did I just break my knee? Is that even possible?” he thought to himself as he screamed on the ground. Eventually his leg went numb. X-rays revealed a broken shin, partially separated ankle and torn ligaments that stabilize the ankle laterally.
A season filled with so many expectations ended for him in Week 3. For all intents and purposes, it ended for Boston College as well. With their starting quarterback out, the Eagles could not settle on a replacement. Injuries across the entire offense compounded the situation, and that ended up wasting one of the best defensive performances in the country.
Wade has vowed not to let that happen again. Nearing 100 percent after his leg injury, Wade will be a full participant once spring practice opens next week -- with motivation to spare. Wade has to prove he is completely healthy, can hold off transfer Patrick Towles to win his job again and can bump up the production playing for his third offensive coordinator in as many years.
“We know we have a good offense here, and that was unfortunate to see the product we displayed,” Wade said in a telephone interview with ESPN.com. “Injuries are part of it, but that’s just an excuse. That’s something we don’t really want to talk about. We’re definitely going to come out with a vengeance just trying to re-prove ourselves and show what Boston College is about.
“And from a durability standpoint, you never want to get hurt. You always want to show you want to be out there and don’t want to let your teammates down because you’re hurt in any way. I’m stretching my body to the point where I can be durable enough and help contribute in any way I can.”
Right after Wade got hurt, he spent 6 ½ weeks on crutches with his leg in a boot. He was then allowed to walk with the boot on for about a week, before another surgery to take screws out of his ankle. Then another week spent on crutches.
It was not until winter break that Wade was able to start jogging and then eventually sprint. Right now, he can cut and run without a problem and has no restrictions as he goes through offseason conditioning work.
But on top of doing his rehab, Wade has had to deal with changes around him. Coaches told him they were going to sign a fifth-year transfer to help shore up depth. Enter Towles from Kentucky. Wade said he understands they will be involved in an open competition during spring practice, along with the other returning quarterbacks.
“As a competitor you always want to see more competition because competition brings the best out of all of us,” Wade said. “It’s always good to get an older guy in here with some experience to share some of his knowledge and some of the things he went through in the SEC and different things he saw to help you develop totally as a quarterback. I’m going to give it my all and make sure I re-earn the spot that I had.”
Then there is new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, taking over for the departed Todd Fitch. Loeffler and Fitch have contrasting personalities. While Fitch has a more laid-back demeanor, Loeffler already has shown his intensity to his new players – without even going through one day of practice.
Of course, BC players are used to intensity from coach Steve Addazio. Still, playing for a new coordinator does take some adjustment. But it’s a challenge Wade is ready for – especially after so many months waiting to play football again.