March 10, 2010

Clay to sit out spring practice

MADISON - John Clay, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, has had a history of ankle problems during his football career.

Now, after having undergone surgery on his left ankle, Clay will use the spring months to recover and fully heal his bad wheel instead of practicing with his teammates during spring drills.

"He's currently getting through one rehab and then in a few weeks will have another rehab that will take him through spring ball," UW head coach Bret Bielema said at his pre-spring camp press conference. "Our goal for us, with what we need out of John in the fall, we thought the best option for him is to get completely healthy.

"For that to be obtained, he's projected to be in full swing June 7th when we start our summer program which will give him basically an eight to 10 week window to get ready for the fall season."

Clay, who had surgery in early January after rushing for more than 1,500 yards as a sophomore, will also undergo another surgery after he fully recovers from his most recent. Currently, that procedure is set for March 25th.

"Last year he was kind of limited in summer drills," Bielema said. "We really felt that affected his play early on. He actually got stronger as the season went on. We want him to enter fall camp in good shape."

Though he didn't show it too often last season, Clay said the injury was fairly bothersome throughout the course of the schedule.

"Oh, it was a pain," Clay said. "Just getting hit or getting landed on any kind of way kind of tweaked it. They had to go in there and take an extra bone out and clean it out. Right after the surgery I felt a big release from that and I could feel a difference right away. Even before stepping out of the cast."

According to Clay, a random bone was floating around inside his foot and apparently got stuck around his ankle.

"I guess it was just an extra bone that was floating around in there," Clay said. "It just got stuck I guess. It was just previously having ankle injuries and always twisting it. It was just an extra bone that just came out of nowhere."

For rehab, Clay is getting up and working out in a swimming pool at 5 a.m. Without being able to run on his recovering ankle, the pool is really one of the few things Clay can do to work it back in shape.

"I've been working out in the pool," Clay said. "Coach Ben Herbert has been doing an excellent job with me working out in the pool and taking that pressure off me running on that turf and that type of thing."

If Clay's dedication to the early morning pool workouts are any indication, UW fans should be excited about the junior's work ethic entering fall camp.

"He is getting up four days a week and is in a swimming pool by 5 a.m.," Bielema said. "He's doing conditioning because that's the only time we could get him in the pool to do his rehab. The commitment he's shown goes way beyond what the normal student athlete is going through here right now.

"I'm really excited about him."

Other injuries:

Clay is not the only one missing either the entirety of spring practice or a large portion of it due to injury. The following are other players, with comments from Bielema, which are going to miss time this spring.

-Chris Borland

"Chris had an operation on his shoulder shortly after the bowl game," Bielema said. "He will not participate in spring drills. But his rehab and everything is on course for where it needs to be."

-Zach Davison

"Zach tweaked his ankle a couple of weeks back," Bielema said. "We expect to bring him back in some part of the first part of spring ball. If not, definitely the second half."

-Mike Taylor

"Obviously he had the knee surgery after the Iowa game," Bielema said. "He's doing extremely well. He's out there and he's doing certain things with our training staff. He hasn't been cleared. We don't foresee him getting cleared to be in play during spring ball but he should be in full force for summer conditioning."

-Tony Megna

"This is a little side note," Bielema said. "Tony is kind of removed from the program. I've kept him on the roster, but he's going through some health issues that he went through last fall and getting that straight. He won't be with us through spring ball. Hopefully he will return in the fall, but that is yet to be determined."

-Peter Konz

"Still with some of the issues that came up, we knew he was going to be gone for six months since the time that it happened," Bielema said. "He's doing very well. He can do everything in our program except for contact. He can't have contact due to his condition. He won't be with us but will be full go with us in the fall as well."

-Gabe Carimi

"He came back after the bowl game and tried to gut it out and try to keep moving forward, but did go back in and had a minor surgery that should recover in time for him to make the second half of spring ball," Bielema said. "When you come out for practice on Saturday, you'll see him out there moving around and running around. He will be technically cleared to go but he won't be ready to go full force actually because he hasn't been out there very much as of late.

-John Moffitt

"John had a minor procedure that has caused him to be sidelined," Bielema said. "Right now, he'll be kind of the same thing with Gabe. They're totally different injuries, but we'll kind of ease him into spring ball as well in the first two weeks. We'll expect to get him back for the second half of spring ball full go."

-Brendan Kelly

"He actually had a surgery done probably about four to five weeks ago," Bielema said. "Everything that he's done to this point has been very, very positive. Again, he should be in the second half of spring ball."

Check back tomorrow for Q&A's from O'Brien Schofield, Jim Leonhard and a second notes package from Bielema regarding everything else about the football team as it inches closer to the start of spring practice.

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