Rutgers football: Daily rehab and screaming at the top of his lungs, Reggie Sutton wants to not just be back but be better

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Reggie Sutton’s return to the field on Saturday afternoon for Rutgers football marked a pivotal moment in the offensive lineman’s comeback, this after more than 18 months from a knee injury that had the potential to end his career.

In 2020, Sutton was an All-Big Ten selection at guard for Rutgers and was generating some serious buzz as an NFL draft pick. But an injury suffered in the fourth week of the 2021 season ended not just that season for Sutton but scrapped the following year for him as well.

Now on Saturday, Sutton played in the annual ‘Scarlet-White Game,’ signaling a poignant return for a player who has the potential to change the Rutgers offensive line significantly.

He attacked his rehab with gusto over the past year-and-a-half. For four months following surgery, Sutton did 12-hours of rehab daily. It got to the point that Sutton’s teammates heard him during rehab “yelling at the top of my lungs” while being stretched out.

Seated in the team’s meeting room inside the Hale Center following Saturday’s ‘Spring Game,’ Sutton admits he wasn’t sure if this moment would ever come around.

“I mean, at one point, I just kept everything with an open mind,” Sutton said about the possibility that he wouldn’t ever see the field again.

“And I think that was the biggest and best thing I did. I was like – I’m gonna let whatever it is – let it be – and just lay the cards on the table because I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“But if I get a chance to suit up with my guys again, you know, I’ll jump for that opportunity. So I was really happy with it. I’m not happy with how I played because I have a high standard for myself but I am happy that I was out there after so long.”

After the game, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano likened the injury suffered by Sutton to that suffered in 2002 by defensive lineman Ryan Neill. That was an injury, Schiano said, that took 18 months for Neill to fully recover.


Remington Moss offered by Rutgers football during the annual 'Spring Game'

His final two seasons upon his return saw Neill become an All-Big East selection.

The Rutgers offensive line remains a work in progress under first-year line coach Pat Flaherty. Were Sutton able to return to the form he had shown prior to this injury, then Rutgers has the chance to take a step forward this season as an offense. That’s how good Sutton was in 2021 and through the first three games of 2021.

He is humble by nature and admits he doesn’t like to praise himself. But, he said his goal throughout rehab wasn’t simply to get to an All-Big Ten level once again.


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His goal is to be even better than before.

“I’m just taking it day by day. I think that I have to get stronger of course and it’s just like an everyday battle with this rehab to just get better in every aspect,” Sutton said.

“And I don’t think that I’m a finished product by any means. And I’ll think even when I’m back out there on the field – or hopefully I’m back out there on the field – then I’ll keep working and stuff like that.

But I hold myself to a high standard. So I’m gonna keep working to try to get back and not even get to that All-Big Ten level, but climb higher. And that was one of the biggest things that coach Schiano asked the trainer’s (and) he said, ‘Do you think that he can come back even stronger from this injury?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ so they gave me a lot of confidence in how I take my rehab. And you know, I just put all my cards on the table.”


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Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire