They already love Darqueze Dennard at Michigan State, but Spartans fans might be ready to erect a statue to the program's first Jim Thorpe Award winner now.
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi broke news at Sunday's team banquet when he revealed Dennard helped lead Michigan State to a win over Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl back in January despite suffering a sprained ankle two days before the game in practice. The story was reported by Mlive.com
Narduzzi admitted coaches did their best to keep the injury secret, even having another member of the team practice in Dennard's jersey in the final tuneups before the game. Dennard said he received all kinds of treatment from the program's medical staff and wasn't about to miss the game regardless.
"They were doing everything, they used a laser, I don't even know what that did,'' Dennard told Mlive.com.
The Spartans won the memorable game 24-20 on a defensive stand. Dennard, who was a first-team All-American and is a projected first-round draft pick in next week's NFL draft, made just three tackles in the Rose Bowl win.
Whoever selects Dennard will obviously be getting a player who is willing to play through pain for his team.
"I think the adrenaline kind of kicked in,'' Dennard told Mlive. "But I couldn't walk that first day, that's the crazy thing about it. Two days before I couldn't walk.
"But it was a once in lifetime opportunity, so I was going to play, regardless. We got a win, and that's all that mattered.''
Dennard and his teammates also picked up some pretty sweet Rose Bowl Championship rings at the banquet.
- - - - - - -