To read the entire feature chronicling Gus Ragland’s recovery from ACL surgery at Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, as written by Patrick Brennan and published in the Enquirer, please click here.
As Miami University of Ohio’s quarterback stepped forward to receive the well-deserved award for Offensive MVP of the St. Petersburg Bowl, his face was solemn. Aside from an early fourth-quarter interception (his first interception of the season), Ragland played an outstanding game against heavily favored Mississippi State. Even the interception didn’t really change the flow of the game, given that it was a deep pass on fourth down.
The most impressive part about Ragland earning the Offensive MVP award is the fact that he was even able to play. Eight months ago, on April 10th, the Moeller High School graduate tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Even though surgery after an ACL tear can happen almost immediately, the recovery is a long and arduous process. In fact, recovery usually takes a year for even professional athletes.
Not so for Gud Ragland. With his determination and desire to return to the field, Ragland completed therapy and returned to play in a mere six months. To clarify, Ragland not only got back to standing and walking normally, he led Miami University to a bowl game, and came very close to upsetting Mississippi State.
Dr. Timothy Kremchek of Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine performed Ragland’s ACL reconstruction on April 17. This was immediately followed by months of physical rehab under the careful instruction of Beacon’s expert physical therapists. Through the program, Ragland was able to re-develop his mobility, running, cutting, and impact absorption.
The program has specific benchmarks to gauge an athlete’s recovery. Dr. Kremchek implemented this program and supervised Ragland’s rehab. Since Gus Ragland is a college athlete, Dr. Kremchek and the physical therapist pushed the quarterback to achieve higher benchmarks than the average person recovering from a similar injury.
After the injury, Ragland sought out Kremchek’s opinion. The nationally acclaimed sports medicine surgeon told Ragland that surgery was necessary, but if he worked hard and pushed himself, he would be able to return to football in October. Once he had completed the recovery program, it would be up to Miami head coach Chuck Martin when Ragland could return.
“This is a kid who basically looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m coming back in October and I’m going to help this team,” Dr. Kremchek recalled.
Without Ragland, the Redhawks lost their first game, then second, then third. Before Ragland was even ready to return, his team had posted zero wins and six losses. Many of his fellow players and coaching staff suggested a medical red-shirt for Ragland.
Dr. Kremchek agreed. “I looked at him and thought, quite honestly, you’re 0-6,” Kremchek stated during an interview on Sunday. “He looked at me and said, ‘I want to play,’ and I looked at him and I said, ‘well, you’re able to do it and you worked your ass off to get to this point… your leg is as strong as an ox and you look terrific… And look what he did.”
Dr. Kremchek communicated regularly with Coach Martin, and asked that Ragland would be played instead of wasting wear and tear during practices. Martin’s response didn’t leave room for guessing as he declared he was going to play Ragland.
After Gus Ragland returned to the quarterback position, the Redhawks posted victories against its next six opponents to finish the season 6-6 with bowl eligibility. The six straight wins were more than the outgoing seniors had experienced during the first 42 games they played with the university. The current graduating class posted a four-year record of five wins and a whopping 37 losses before Ragland got back on the field.
After Monday’s loss against Mississippi, Ragland didn’t take time to focus on his injury or his lightning fast recovery. Instead, he deflected attention to the departing senior class. One thing is for certain, Ragland helped the outgoing seniors look a lot better on the field. During his seven games, the quarterback accounted for 114 completions and only one interception of 178 passing attempts. He threw for 1,531 passing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Going forward, the Redhawks hope to leverage their bowl position to recruit and bolster the football program. The coaching staff credits this year’s bowl eligibility to Ragland and his speedy ACL recovery. Martin recalls that Ragland was determined to play this season before he even had his ACL repaired.
“We knew we were really close,” Coach Martin said of the Miami football program. “The whole rest of the world thought we sucked. He (Gus Ragland) gave us the confidence, just the way he believes all the time.”