Iowa State University’s football team has two stories of rehabilitation heading into the season. Wide receiver Todd Blythe says he’s fully recovered from surgery to repair an ACL injury. “I was never going to let this injury keep me out of any playing time,” Blythe says. “I knew I was going to have to sit out the spring, obviously, but I was determined to get back and be healthy before we got to fall camp and I’ve been able to do that.” Blythe, a sophomore from Indianola, says his legs feel normal again. “I’m always asking our (defensive backs), you know, ‘Do I look any different? Do I look like I did before?’ and they all tell me that I look the same. You know, they tell me that I’m breaking out of the cushion faster and that I’m running my routes quicker than I was,” Blythe says. “When we did our conditioning tests the other day, I actually ran, I think, a full second faster than I did last year which is quite a bit.” Blythe relishes his situation. “I always went on the message boards (on the Internet) just to see who was doubting me that day,” Blythe says. “I’m ready for this first game to get out there and show everybody that I’m back and I’m better than I was last year.” Blythe has idea when he’ll truly know he’s recovered. “Probably that first catch I make and get hit and pop back up and run back to the huddle, feeling good, feeling fine. That’ll let me know,” Blythe says. “I guess for the fans, I’ll probably have to catch another deep one. That’s fine. Hopefully I’ll get my share of those this year.” Blythe will wear a small brace for two-a-day practices, but once the season starts, he won’t wear a brace. Blythe’s coach, Dan McCarney, says Blythe is ready to go. “We won’t hold him or pace him through anything,” McCarney says. “He’s 100 percent, more than 100 percent.” The other story involves not physical rehabilitation, but perhaps mental and emotional. It’s the case of Jason Berryman, the Cyclone defensive end who served time for robbery and assault. McCarney says he’s waiting for Berryman’s summer school grades, and will then decide whether Berryman can return to the squad. “As soon as we get those final grades back, if he did what he think he did and could do and should have done and he’s eligible (academically), then he will be reinstated on the football team, he will practice, and he will be put on scholarship before we start first day of classes,” McCarney says. But Berryman won’t go to the top of the line once he’s back on the team. He’ll start on the fifth string, according to McCarney, who says he’s got to earn his way back. McCarney says Berryman has a lot of questions to answer: “Has he grown as a man? Has he learned from his mistakes? Has he taken responsibility for his mistakes?” The coach says it would have been easier for Berryman and McCarney himself if Berryman had chosen to go to a junior college rather than try to get back on the football team. “But I’m real proud of the job he’s done this summer,” McCarney says. The Cyclone players reported Wednesday for fall practices. McCarney and the team talked with reporters Thursday in Ames but Berryman was not on the field to answer questions. “This is about a team, not any one individual,” McCarney told reporters. McCarney describes this year’s team as a blend of experience and inexperience that “should” be better than last year’s. “We’ve got a good enough football team right now to get into the fourth quarter with a lot of teams,” McCarney said. “Are we good enough to close games, win games, make plays when the game’s on the line? We’ll find that out in the weeks ahead.” McCarney said he likes the chemistry and “behavior” of the team. McCarney said it’s been a “quiet summer” in places like Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Falls and Des Moines. “All the head football coaches (in the state), I’m sure, are sleeping a little bit better right now because it’s been a pretty quiet summer,” McCarney said.
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