Fan Favorite, Star Receiver 80 Percent Back from Injury
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. — Everyone remembers the play.
Dragging a defender, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was hit from behind as he fought his way toward the goal line near the end of the Auburn game last year. He felt it when the injury happened, but he made himself not believe until he tried to stand up.
His outstanding sophomore season came to an abrupt end, and he later underwent surgery to repair a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle.
Amid the devastation, for a player, a team and a community, he had one thought above all else.
“How long is it going to take for me to get back?” Treadwell wondered.
So his recovery began, while he remained a vital part of the team and a source of pride for Rebel Nation.
Fans sent letters to Treadwell and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, who had suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the LSU game. They were fixtures on the sidelines on their scooters, and they even led the Hotty Toddy chant before the Rebels’ Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi State.
“It was a learning process for me, for the most part,” Treadwell said of his injury and recovery. “It happened, and I learned from it. I grew up. I think the team grew from it and matured a lot. There’s a better focus with the team now than there was last year.”
While his teammates prepared for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against TCU, Treadwell got off the scooter and out of a walking boot, and his recovery accelerated. He kept his fans informed, posting videos to Instagram of his recovery throughout the process.
“From the first night, I knew he was already focused on getting back,” tight end Evan Engram said. “I don’t think he missed anything in the training room. He was on time to everything. I was not surprised to see him back.”
As early as the beginning of March, he was back with his teammates, going through workouts and running routes with the quarterbacks and receivers, and it’s only picked up from there. Now, he’s participating in one-on-one work and running routes versus air in spring practice, although he has not participated in any team situations yet.
“It was such a gruesome injury,” quarterback Ryan Buchanan said. “Most people said there was no way he could come back in the spring. This is our third week in it, and he’s already running around and stuff. It’s really remarkable to see how fast he’s come back.”
“It’s good to see him out there, doing his thing,” added quarterback DeVante Kincade, a roommate of Treadwell’s. “It feels so good to see him out there because I know he went through a lot. Now that he’s out there running routes, catching passes and getting a feel, he’s getting back to his old self.”
This spring practice, Treadwell is focused on getting his rhythm back, and more than anything, he feels great to be out there competing and getting better with his teammates.
“There’s a little hesitation,” Treadwell said. “I’m about 80 percent, but you know it’s getting better every day.”
Head coach Hugh Freeze is hopeful he will be back to 100 percent by the start of fall camp.
“I sure hope so; I’m not a doctor,” Freeze said. “But everybody who has any wisdom in that tells me that everything looks great, and Laquon says he feels good. I think he has to get out in summer workouts and really get to feeling confident running and jumping and moving because we’re not asking him to do a lot of that right now.”
“A week? Week or two? A month?” Treadwell said. “I can’t really say. It’s all just a process.”
Ole Miss will close spring practice with the annual Regions Bank Grove Bowl on April 11. Kickoff is set for noon at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller.