May 12, 2009

National Notes: Afo recovering from freak injury

Salt Lake City Cottonwood defensive tackle Jordan Afo has a number of different talents.

Dancing isn't one of them.

This winter while dancing at a party at a friend's house, Afo tried to impress his friends with a spontaneous move that included a back flip. The flip, flopped, leaving the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder in a situation that almost cost him his ability to walk.

"The ceiling was kind of short," Afo said. "I didn't think about it. I got to dancing, and I tried to flip. I kind of hesitated and landed on my neck."

Immediately Afo knew something was wrong.

"I couldn't feel from my waist down," he said. "I could feel a little bit in my toes. I was thinking to myself, 'I can walk, I can walk.' I tried to roll over and crawl, but I couldn't. My cousins lifted me up and put me on the couch. I think that's when I felt something crack in my back. I couldn't feel my legs at all."

The ride to the hospital was something he'll never forget.

"I said the most prayers that I ever have in my life on the ride over there," Afo said. "I was laying there, and I couldn't feel my legs. I knew something serious was wrong. It went through my head that I could never walk again and that my whole life would be forever changed."

His prayers were answered after surgery to fix a broken vertebra in his back. The surgery went off without a hitch, and Afo said his doctors are shocked at how quickly he has recovered.

I was laying there, and I couldn't feel my legs. I knew something serious was wrong. It went through my head that I could never walk again and that my whole life would be forever changed.
- Jordan Afo
"It's a blessing I'm walking," Afo said. "The next day after the surgery, they put a brace on me and gave me a walker to use later on. But I started to use it right away. I was in the hospital for only a week, instead of a month like they thought. I think my training really helped. My legs and arms were strong enough to hold me up just in case I needed the support.

"Now I'm walking like there was never anything wrong. I have to wear a brace for another three weeks and hopefully that's when it'll come off."

Throughout this process, colleges have continued to stick with the talented defensive lineman who ranks as the nation's No. 24 defensive tackle and is a three-star prospect. BYU and Utah State have already extended scholarship offers and still have continued to pursue him hard, despite the injury.

"Honestly I didn't know too much about BYU or Utah State, but I appreciated how they stuck with me through all of this," Afo said. "I wasn't big on college teams growing up, but I just knew the name BYU. I was looking for something outside of football to consider.

"Football is fun and great, but it's not always going to be there. So that's what I came away most impressed with at BYU. When I went down there, I saw they had a good program, but football wasn't the only thing they were selling me on. It was their faith. They talked to me a lot about being well-rounded and successful in all things in life."

Afo, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will take his mission after his freshman season in college, admits BYU is a very serious option for him. However, he said hasn't narrowed the list down at this point. He's getting attention this spring from Washington, Utah, Cal, Kansas State, Oregon State, Wyoming and others.

"I honestly am leaning toward staying out West," he said. "I don't want to go across the entire United States. I want to stay on the West Coast. That's why teams like BYU, Utah, Washington and Cal are interesting to me.

"But after what I went through, I've learned you have to stay humble and can't get a big head. All of this can be taken away from you so quickly, so you have to be happy for every day because it's a blessing."

While he might have to prove to a few more schools that he's 100 percent after the injury before he racks up more offers, Afo is excited about what his gridiron future holds. He's going to work hard when he's cleared medically in a few weeks to make the most of his second chance, and he's promised his mother no more back flips.

"Just hand stands," he said.

FIVE-STAR SHOWDOWN STARS

The Rivals.com Five-Star Showdown made a stop in Stamford, Conn., this weekend, and the event attracted many of the top players in the Northeast. While the event was mainly about discovering sleepers in one of the more under-recruited areas in the nation, Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said there were a few stars who stood out.

"Khairi Fortt and Silas Redd are the real deal," Farrell said. "Fortt was off the charts in testing with a 4.5 40, 4.25 shuttle and he was awesome in coverage in the one-on-ones. Redd showed explosion with a top-five time in the 40 and the second-best vertical, and his change or direction and quick feet were clearly evident in the drills and one-on-ones."

Both players proved why they rank among the nation's best. Fortt is the No. 2 outside linebacker in the nation, and Redd is ranked as the nation's 12th-best athlete.

STILL ROLLING

Monday was a typical day for Corona, Calif., four-star running back Jordon James.

James, a 5-10, 190-pounder who ranks as the nation's No. 8 running back, added a Miami scholarship offer and also had plenty of visitors at his school.

"It's crazy," James said. "It doesn't seem to stop. Miami offered me, and Florida (Brian White), Notre Dame (Brian Polian) and Arizona (Tim Kish) came to my school today. I'm really excited about the Miami offer. I really don't know too much about them, but I'm going to do my research."

Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Tennessee were the teams that recently were in James' top eight. He said he'd be willing to add Miami to the group if he likes what he finds out about the 'Canes. Miami also offered James' teammate, four-star cornerback Demetrius Wright, on Monday.

ETC.

Four-star tight end Trey Millard of Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge is one of the most highly coveted players in his state. The 6-2, 245-pound tight end/linebacker already has a long list of offers that includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina and Stanford. According to his coach, A.J. Ofodile, Oklahoma is the latest school to jump into the picture with an offer.

After having this past weekend's NIKE Training Camp postponed because of the H1N1 flu scare in Texas, NIKE officials have rescheduled the event for 10 a.m. May 31 at Rice University. NIKE will host three events this weekend in the San Francisco Bay area. Friday afternoon will be an Elite 11 Regional Camp at Cal-Berkeley, followed by a NIKE Combine at Laney College and then a NIKE Training Camp at Stanford on Sunday.

Darius Robinson of Atlanta Westlake has added more offers from Maryland, West Virginia and Purdue, upping his total to 12 schools. May has been a good month for Robinson. Last week, he received offers from Miami and North Carolina. Robinson is a four-star prospect and is currently the No. 21-rated cornerback in the country.




 

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