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Former Stanford tailback Bryce Love is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which he suffered in the Cardinal’s final regular season game. Love underwent surgery on Dec. 18 with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham and is expected to make a full recovery.
He will attend the NFL combine in February but will be limited in his participation. He’s still too early in the rehab process to determine when he’ll be cleared to return to the field. Love disclosed the injury, which hadn’t been previously reported, to Yahoo Sports on Friday in an effort to be transparent for the pre-draft process. Love is rehabbing at the Andrews Institute and training at EXOS in Pensacola, Florida.
“I’m very grateful to Dr. Andrews and his team for making the surgery a seamless process,” Love said in a statement to Yahoo Sports. “Obviously, there’s no such thing as an ideal injury, but I’m on the path to recovery, and my goal remains the same — getting drafted by an NFL team and being the ultimate professional. I’ll be back better than I’ve ever been.”
The injury occurred during Stanford’s 23-13 victory over Cal to conclude the regular season. Love finished that game with 22 carries for 74 yards and got injured on a red-zone run in the fourth quarter, the final play he was in the game for. He did not participate in Stanford’s Sun Bowl victory over Pittsburgh, as he announced he’d “focus on being completely healthy and prepared for the 2019 NFL draft.”
Love is a 5-foot-10, 202-pound tailback who flashed a rare dynamism at times during his Stanford career. After rushing for 2,118 yards in his junior season, despite battling persistent ankle issues, he made the surprising decision to return for his senior season. Love finished second in the Heisman Trophy race in 2017 behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. He earned unanimous All-American honors, won the Doak Walker award for the nation’s top tailback and earned the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Love came back for his senior year in part to be with his teammates for another season and help Stanford win more games. Love also returned because he wanted to finish his undergraduate degree in human biology at one of the nation’s elite academic institutions, as he plans to become a pediatrician after his professional football career is done. (Love is taking a few seminars this semester to complete graduation.)
He was just the second draft-eligible tailback to return to school at the Football Bowl subdivision level after rushing for 2,000 yards.
Love’s statistics dipped upon his return for his final season. Running behind an offensive line riddled with injuries, he finished the season with just 739 total yards, as his yards per carry dipped from 8.1 to 4.5 and touchdowns fell from 19 to 6.
Love has always taken the long view on life after football. He summed up his perspective in an essay published in the News & Observer this summer: “The reality of sports is that it does all come to an end,” he wrote. “As much as I wish to play in the NFL, I am also passionate about becoming a pediatrician — something I’ve wanted since my doctor cured me of pneumonia when I was little.”
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