MORGANTOWN Dustin Garrison doesn't mind being at the bottom of the running backs' totem pole, saying he knows what he can do and will have the opportunity to prove it.
Garrison, who led the West Virginia University football team in rushing as a true freshman, is continuing to come back from a freak knee injury that forced him to miss the Orange Bowl and the spring practice season. He led the Mountaineers with 742 yards on the ground, including a 291-yard effort against Bowling Green, and he also caught 24 passes.
"We have a great rotation at running back Shawne (Alston), (Andrew) Buie and me," Garrison said as he sat in the team room with his knees wrapped in ice. "It doesn't matter where I am now. We have a great group of guys."
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
West Virginia University running back Dustin Garrison high-steps his way over the obstacles during practice. Garrison missed the Orange Bowl and spring practice after a knee injury suffered in bowl preparations.
Garrison said he was happy to be able to return to the field this week and be around his teammates. He knows the roughest days of rehabilitation are behind him, though he knows there will always be the need for continued treatment on his injured knee.
"I told him he needs to trust the training staff," Alston said. "He just has to continue getting treatment. A lot of players will take the attitude that their injury is feeling good, so they will stop going to treatments. If you do that, things start to come back and compound. You have to keep working at it."
Garrison admitted to feeling down on himself in the days immediately following the injury, which was suffered in Florida during preparations for the bowl game. He remembered just wanting to be alone in the hotel room, while his teammates were going out to watch a Miami Heat basketball game.
"I called my mom, and she told me everything happens for a reason," Garrison said.
He leaned on his mother during the surgery and the days following, saying she was his pillar of strength.
"The day after the surgery, I was supposed to do rehab," he said. "I couldn't even pick up my leg. She coached me up. She's always calling me and texting me. That allowed me to focus throughout the whole recovery process."
Garrison said he was still able to do upper body workouts during his rehabilitation process, and he feels a lot stronger upstairs.
He said he believes that part will come in handy when WVU begins its debut season in the Big 12 Conference.
"I'm excited to be able to play back home," the Texas native said. "A lot of my family and friends will be at those games."
But for now, Garrison said he is taking it one practice at a time and one rung on the depth chart ladder at a time.
"I'm ready to get back on the field and make plays with my teammates," he said.
"I'm running like nothing ever happened."