Blue Hawks LB McCoy back on field after concussion ended his 2011 seasonBeing a part of a football team and not being allowed to step on the field can be torture. Just ask Zach McCoy.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Being a part of a football team and not being allowed to step on the field can be torture.
Just ask Zach McCoy.
Dickinson State’s senior outside linebacker from Plentywood, Mont., is back on the field for spring football practices after spending almost all of last season confined to the sidelines after suffering a concussion in the team’s season-opening loss at Rocky Mountain College.
“It got old sitting on the sideline last year and watching all my best friends play and me sitting there and having to watch them,” McCoy said.
When McCoy went down, the Blue Hawks lost the player they felt could lead their young defense.
He was DSU’s second leading returning tackler after finishing fifth on the team with 53 total tackles in 2010, his sophomore season.
“He would have been in our nickel package and our dime package,” DSU defensive coordinator Arlan Hofland said. “Any time you have somebody who has some athletic ability who can run a little bit, he’s bound to figure big in the coverage. He would have been in on all of those and he would have been in on specialty teams. So, he left a lot of holes to fill when he wasn’t able to go.”
Jay Grosz, a senior inside linebacker, said having McCoy back on the field will help alleviate one of last season’s biggest problems areas: tackling.
As the Blue Hawks prepare for their first season in the Frontier Conference, they need McCoy even more so now. Three of the team’s top four tacklers from last season were seniors. Grosz was the other.
“To have someone back there who knows how to play well is going to help a lot,” Grosz said. “His physical presence is going to help a lot. Last year, our biggest problem on defense was tackling. He’s one of our best tacklers in the past few years when we had really good teams. That, all together, is going to be huge for this defense and this team.”
This spring, McCoy has stepped back into the role of team leader he was supposed to have last season and knows much is expected from him.
“I’m fully ready for that,” McCoy said. “I was ready for that last year and that (the concussion) happened, of course. But I’m ready to take over now.”
However, he’s fine with easing back into things.
After all, concussions can’t be rehabbed and a player sure as heck can’t just rub some dirt on his head and get back in the game — especially now with head injuries at the forefront of a national debate on the safety of athletes.
For much of last season, McCoy said he didn’t have many lingering effects from the concussion other than headaches. But that, doctors told him, was more than enough to keep him off the field.
“You know, it’s going to take some time,” McCoy said, admittedly. “I obviously haven’t played in a year. The best part is being out there with everyone, putting the helmet back on, putting the shoulder pads on and hitting somebody.”
McCoy, who was a junior last season, could have applied for a medical redshirt and had two more seasons of football. But, he plans on playing the 2012 season as a senior.
After the spring semester concludes, he will have only three classes remaining before graduating with his degree in business management. He already has a job at a bank in Dickinson.
“I’m ready to get done,” McCoy said. “I kind of want to graduate with all the guys I came in with.”