Injury hampers Wood, who eyes fifth year
Greg Hadley | Wednesday, November 20, 2013
For most of the Irish, the 2012 season was the highlight of their careers. For senior cornerback Lo Wood, it was one of frustration and disappointment after he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the preseason.
Initially projected to be a starter for the squad, Wood spent the next six months in rehab and watched from the sidelines as his teammates went undefeated in the regular season.
“The hardest part [of being injured] of being out last year was watching my teammates play,” Wood said. “I went to the games and I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me, but not being able to play was hard for me.”
Forced off the field, Wood learned to appreciate the time he spent in the locker room.
“Those are my favorite moments at Notre Dame,” Wood said. “Just being in the locker room with my teammates, talking, having fun, listening to music, dancing around, playing baseball, just hanging out.”
Among those teammates, Wood said he is closest with two fellow seniors, receiver TJ Jones and cornerback Bennett Jackson. The three live off-campus together and Wood said both Jones and Jackson helped him as he recovered from his injury.
“Since day one, we’ve hung out together,” Wood said. “We’re always around each other, having fun, hanging out. It’s great to be able to get back on the field with them.”
The road to recovery has not been an easy or a quick one for Wood, who ruptured his Achilles tendon while backpedaling during a routine preseason drill.
“The first three or four months, I was on crutches, so there wasn’t much I could do to rehab,” Wood said. “After that, I did a whole bunch of stuff to get the strength in my calf back. After six months I was able to jog, which really put me on edge, trying to get to the toughness where I wasn’t worried about my leg or getting hurt again.”
Now, over a year later, Wood said he feels he is fully recovered.
“After all the rehab and the training, I think it was just about getting back out there,” Wood said. “I can run. I can jump. I can do anything the coaches need me to.”
Wood has returned with a vengeance. Although he does not start, the 5-foot-10, 194-pounder has played in all but two games this season and has already recorded career-highs in tackles and tackles for loss. But his biggest impact has been on special teams, where Wood acts as a leader for the younger players.
“Guys that are younger always come to me for advice about special teams,” Wood said. “Guys like [freshman receiver] James Onwualu and [sophomore safety] John Turner will come and ask about something specific on special teams or their playing situation. I just try to tell them, ‘Your time will come. You just have to keep pushing yourself. Special teams is what gets you on the field.'”
Wood said his favorite on-field memory was also his biggest play in a Notre Dame uniform. Facing Maryland at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., for the 2011 Shamrock Series, Wood intercepted a pass from Terrapins quarterback Danny O’Brien and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown to put the Irish up 38-7, sealing the victory.
“I’ll never forget that feeling,” Wood said. “Everyone brings it up and I love to talk about it. There are no words to describe what it’s like scoring a touchdown. It’s just an amazing feeling. When I got in the end zone, I didn’t even know what to do. I just put my hands up in the air and had a great time with it.”
Because of his injury, Wood still has another year of eligibility and hopes to be back next season. With the imminent departure of Jackson, who starts at one of the two cornerback spots, Wood would be the oldest player in the cornerback corps if he returns.
After that, Wood said he hopes to be involved in sports broadcasting once he has graduated.
“I’m interested in the television industry,” Wood said. “I have to do my best to make it somewhere in the real world.”
Contact Greg Hadley at [email protected]