Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs His head down, Connor Landusky talks for the thousandth time about recovering from a total decimation of his left knee.
He describes fully tearing the ACL and meniscus in his left knee in the first football game of fall, essentially ending his senior sports season.
He discusses rehab, which is three days a week of working on his core, leg strength, balance and movement.
He tells you he feels healthy enough to play now but concedes the knee won’t be ready until March.
Mostly, Landusky describes how watching games from the sideline doesn’t — and probably won’t — get any easier.
“It gets harder every time we get closer to each game,” Landusky said. “I feel like I should be out there.”
He probably should, but that’s not always the way things work out.
During his junior season, Landusky played a key part while being in the background. During the football team’s run to the state championship game, Landusky got fullback carries and fullback recognition. But he essentially served as a sixth offensive lineman for that pass-happy Steamboat team.
In basketball, he was the sixth man, often providing toughness and grit to an undersized team.
With his senior season ahead of him, he looked like a prime breakout candidate. In football, he was going to get 25 carries a game. In basketball, his role would have been extended.
But one plant of his left leg and things all changed.
Still, Landusky didn’t resign himself to possibly never playing competitive team sports again.
He attended as many football games and practices as he could.
On Saturday, with Steamboat scrimmaging Hayden in basketball, he sat in the middle of the bench and offered support.
He just wants to be a part of it, or as he puts it, “I don’t want to ditch out on these guys.”
It’s tough to see. With a good year in football, Landusky would have had a legitimate shot to land at a Division II or III school and play.
But he concedes his once 215-pound frame is down to 200 pounds. Although he might reassess his options if he gets the itch to play again in the summer, Landusky knows his competitive playing days probably are numbered.
But where one thing ends, another usually begins.
Without sports to focus on, Landusky is starting to look seriously at his education. He anticipates attending the University of Colorado next fall, where he’s thinking about doing something in the medical field.
Without the injury, he said, he never would have thought of trying to become a physical therapist or study pre med.
“At this point, I’d pick education over football,” he said. “My future is in education and not in football.”
Through it all, Landusky got a lesson not often taught at this level. There were times he felt bad for himself — and who wouldn’t — but through it all, he understood better how things sometimes work out.
“It made me stronger,” he said, filling up a water bottle for a teammate. “It made me feel how lucky I was to be even playing.”