While his high school football days are certainly over, OPRF running back Dorion Grant plans to be ready, willing and able to go when track and field season begins this spring.
Grant, who gruesomely broke his left tibia and fibula during the second game of the season against Hinsdale South on Sept. 5, underwent successful surgery last week at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Into the senior’s leg, doctors inserted a metal rod that stretches from the bottom of his kneecap to the top of his ankle. The surgery took two hours and Grant said his doctors are confident he should be able to put weight on the leg in a week or so.
“I’m optimistic my recovery will be quick,” he said. “There’s been no infection or anything, and things went really well with the surgery.”
The rod will likely stay in Grant’s leg permanently.
“It’s there as a brace to help stabilize the leg. I’m stronger with it,” he said.
Prior to the break, Grant said he had been nursing a stress fracture in the same location of the leg since feeling discomfort during track and field season in the spring. A few days before the start of the football season, he said he was still feeling soreness in the leg. According to Grant, a doctor recommended he wear an inflatable boot cast for five weeks, because the stress fracture had not fully healed, but the senior decided to play anyway.
In a separate interview, Grant’s father, Sherwood, denied that his son ever saw a doctor or was diagnosed with a stress fracture prior to the football season.
“It may have been communicated to Dorion through one of the trainers or myself that he may have had a stress fracture, but we would have only been speculating at that point,” said Sherwood. “He never saw a doctor until after he broke his leg. No X-rays were ever taken on it prior to the football season. He had weakness in the area and it certainly had something to do with the break, but whether or not it was a shin-splint or stress fracture we weren’t sure.”
Head football coach Jim Nudera said he was aware in June that Grant had an issue with his left leg that carried over from the track season. But as of mid-August he said his starting running back never indicated he was hurting nor did he show any signs of discomfort during practices.
“I saw no signs of Dorion being unable to run hard or cut or anything like that,” said Nudera. “When we started in August, he was full bore, bursting through the line and doing a great job. It was never communicated to me that a doctor recommended he be in a boot for five weeks.”
Grant, who rushed for 108 yards on 16 carries in OPRF’s season opening loss to Glenbard North, said his doctor left the decision to play up to him. After the more serious injury, Grant said that doctors told him the clean break that left his shin bone jutting out in an awkward direction was due to the underlying stress fracture.
His father said the family spoke to three doctors at that point, and only one said Grant’s previous injury may have led to the break.
“Another doctor said it had nothing to do with it,” said Sherwood.
Grant said he has some regrets about playing.
“I wanted to help the team as much as I could,” he said. “It wasn’t an option for me to sit out. I wanted to play.
“I’m pretty sure I’d make the same decision again if I had to. It would be different for a junior, but as a senior, in his last year and with us being expected to be one of the better teams in the conference, I think I would do the same thing over. I don’t recommend it to everyone. It just depends on the person.”
Grant, who qualified for the state track and field meet last spring in the shot put and the discus, said he’s anxious to get back out and compete.
“I’m sure I’ll be 100 percent by track and field season. It’s my goal.”