MIAMI, Fla. (WALA) - At the beginning of the 2012 football season, Alabama running back Jalston Fowler said he had high hopes this year was going to be his breakout year. He had planned on making a name for himself and wanted to make his family and friends proud but that all changed September 8 when a devastating accident took Fowler from the playing field.
It was midway through the 4 th quarter against Western Kentucky, the second game of the 2012 season, when Alabama running back Jalston Fowler took a hit.
"It was just a leg whip. A (Western Kentucky) guy trying to tackle A.J. (McCarron) and his momentum just carried on with him and he hit my knee. And when he hit my knee, it went back, bent awkward and it popped and I tore a lot of things in my knee," said Fowler.
While the pain consumed his body, Fowler said his mind was racing with thoughts of his season ending and with tear-filled eyes, Fowler was carted off the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"I feel like I let them down by getting hurt," he said.
Fowler had injured his knee and could not finish the season but that didn't keep him from attending every practice and game. Instead of running on the field, carrying the ball and executing plays, Fowler is cheering and coaching from the sidelines.
"On the field, it's pretty easy and laid back but on that sideline, everybody's going crazy screaming, yelling, everything," said Fowler.
He said he keeps in constant communication with T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy while they're on the field. Fowler said he'll help them keep their head in the game and talk to them about the plays they're seeing on the field because with him on the sidelines, it's up to Yeldon and Lacy to win the game.
That's something Fowler said he is looking forward to about Miami, coaching his teammates and helping them come out on top against the Fighting Irish.
"We prepare daily. Every day they've been preparing for it; that's what Coach Saban preaches. You've got to be ready. You've got to take every game a step at a time and right now, we're preparing like it's a one game season," said Fowler.
He said he misses the thrill of being on the field, scoring a touchdown and hearing the crowd erupt when a big play is executed. He said the adrenaline running through his veins and playing side by side with his teammates is a memory he now carries with him.
"My favorite part is when the other team is talking smack to you and you beat them real bad and you can't do anything but laugh at them, that's my favorite part," said Fowler.
He said being hurt hasn't been a struggle for him because family and friends help him keep a positive attitude.
Friends like Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said, "When it first happened, we just told him to keep his head up because that's a lot of stuff to go through. When your seasons going good and there are a lot of high expectations, then you get cut short like that."
Fowler said some of the players will come into the training room to joke around with the other injured players and give them some company.
But much as much fun as he has hanging with the guys, Fowler said he wants to get back on the field and start playing ball with them again. Fowler said he's trying to get back in the game he loves by the time spring practice starts, and he's planning on coming back strong and having a better season in 2013.
Fowler said Vigor High School Football Coach Kerry Stevenson has influenced and encouraged him to get back in the game.
"He used to depend on me a lot. He looks for me to be a leader and some of the people on the team at Alabama look up to me, so I have to do that for them too," said Fowler. "Coach Stevenson used to always tell me ‘If we lose, it's your fault. So that's the kind of thing that sticks with me."
Fowler said he's learned a lot from his injury, and one of the biggest is to never give up. Keep your head up, keep working hard and don't quit Fowler advised.
"It was a freak accident; things like that happen. But we still encourage him so when he gets back and he's ready, were going to be ready for him too," Mosley said.
"I learned you can be strong and come back. I mean you have to put your mind to it. So that's what I learned through his whole experience is keep your head up and stay positive," said Fowler.
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