My name is Sam Hudson, I’m 18 years-old and will be graduating from Montgomery Academy in the spring of 2017. I grew up playing a variety of sports, including football, which I started playing when I was 5 years-old. Fortunately, God blessed me with a large, athletic frame. I stand 6’ 4”, could run a 4.7, was a solid receiver with dreams of playing college football.
During my junior year (2015), I was a receiver for the Eagles and had a solid regular season. Our team advanced to the AHSAA 3A playoffs. On Friday, November 6, 2015 my life changed forever. I had a devastating injury in the second quarter of our first-round playoff football game against Hillcrest-Evergreen.
During the second quarter, our QB, Barton Lester, threw me a pass. It was a good ball and right when I caught it a guy jumped on my back. It was third down so I was trying to get the first down, I was like a yard away. I was just trying to get a couple of extra yards for a first down, so I planted my foot to try and throw the tackler off of me and my leg just collapsed. I knew it was bad before I hit the ground.
Unfortunately, I tore every ligament in my right knee – anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral and lateral collateral — as well as damaging the peroneal nerve in my foot, rendering my ankle almost useless and causing a malady known as foot drop.
A number of doctors said my football career was definitely over and that I might never walk normally again. However, my surgeon – Dr. Lyle Cain – told me I was going to make it back! According to Dr. Cain, the peroneal nerve in my right foot was not severed, but severely stretched and he gave me a 30% chance of a full recovery.
Dr. Cain performed my reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. I knew the odds were not stacked in my favor, but refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. Right after Dr. Cain performed my surgery, I left a message for my head football coach, Gary Nelson, saying “everybody is telling me I’m done, but don’t give up one me!”
Initially, I broke down. It was an emotional time for about a month. I didn’t know what to do with myself. By December, I was resolved to prove everyone wrong and started an aggressive rehabilitation plan to return to football for my senior year.
I’d get up at 5 a.m. and work out my upper body with Coach Nelson from about 6:15 to when class started, then after school I’d go to Rehab Associates with my physical therapist, Mr. Robert Kohn, from 3:45 until they closed.
My recovery was a mind game for so long, I didn’t know if I could do it. Well into 2016, I continued with PT sessions with Robert Kohn and we made dozens of trips to Birmingham for post-op visits with Dr. Cain. The progress was slow, but over time, my right knee and foot progressed.
Finally, Dr. Cain fully released me to play football. I was ecstatic to be able to suit up with my Eagles teammates and have an opportunity to play football my senior season of high school.
After the injury, things were not the same my senior season. I wore a brace on my right leg and the damage to my nerves that control my foot, while not thought to be permanent, remained unclear. I couldn’t cut like I used to because I pretty much don’t have an ankle. It just hangs there without this thing (brace) on so I can’t cut but working out my upper body the entire offseason from December until we started spring. I learned how to use my length better so I’m made it work at D-line. According to Coach Nelson, my work at defensive end was better than in the past as the strong offseason work increased my weight to 200 pounds while making me stronger and forcing me to practice better technique.
At receiver, the my speed was gone, but once again, I had to rely more on technique. It’s different, I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t nearly as fast because I’ve pretty much got a robotic leg. But I still caught the ball this season. My go-to move was to truck people!! HA! HA!
Looking back at my injury and recovery, I know this experience helped me grow as a person. I learned to believe in myself, the power of prayer, to not listen to naysayers, surround myself with positive people, and finally that anything can be accomplished through determination and hard work.
Our family is grateful for Dr. Cain’s expertise and skill and for believing that I could overcome this major setback. Also, thank you to Amanda and Kirby, on Dr. Cain’s staff, for their encouragement and assistance throughout my comeback.