Vaught's Views: Centre quarterback takes big hit

August 25, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

One thing Centre College quarterback Brian Behrendt wasn't planning on learning this summer was how to take a hit.

But he took a hit he'll likely never forget and one that came close to ending his football career.

He was run over by a 30,000-pound tractor at his summer job in Lexington. At first, everyone thought he had broken his leg because of the position it was in after the tractor knocked him to the ground and opened a large wound above his ankle.

His parents drove from Paducah thinking their son's leg was broken. Behrendt thought so, too.

"I was pretty prepared for not being able to play this year," Behrendt, a senior, said. "Everybody thought it was broke. From there, it went to where it was just bruising and strains. I did have 18 stitches, but I got lucky and had no long-term or permanent injuries."

The accident was in late June. He spent two weeks in bed "basically watching every new (movie) release that Blockbuster had." Next came two more weeks on crutches. It was a different experience for someone who had never been hurt before.


"I never had a serious injury. I don't think I ever missed a down (of football) because of an injury," Behrendt, who had worked similar jobs in the past for different companies, said. "I never had surgery. I never had to worry about any type of rehab. You really learn to respect people who have come off surgeries and serious injuries where they have to rehab for months. I've got a whole new perspective on injuries now."

But what about his teammates' perspective about him? How does a quarterback, the team's offensive leader, not see a tractor coming?

"When there are a lot of heavy machines around, you don't exactly hear them all. I was checking the grade and he (the tractor driver) was in reverse," Behrendt said. "I got in his line and he didn't see me and he kind of clipped me."

So his teammates accepted that explanation?

"Not at all. They have made jokes constantly," Behrendt said Tuesday during Centre's Media Day. "Everybody thinks it is funny now. They say, 'How can you get out of the way of a pass rush if you can't get out of the way of a tractor?' They have made a lot of wisecracks, but it has all been in fun."

He threw for 2,118 yards, 21 touchdowns last season

It should be. For Centre to reach its lofty preseason expectations, the Colonels need Behrendt. He threw for 2,118 yards and 21 touchdowns last season and coach Andy Frye expects him to be a vastly improved player this year. If he had been lost for the season, Centre's offense would not look nearly as potent as it does now.

"I actually healed quicker than the doctors thought," the Centre quarterback said. "I have been going full go most of our preseason. I have not had any contact yet, but I usually don't get hit in practice any way."

That will change Saturday when the Colonels scrimmage Hanover here to prepare for their season opener Sept. 4 against Blufton College.

"I don't think the opener will be a problem. I might still be a little slow Saturday, but I am getting better each day," Behrendt said. "I had prepared for not being able to play this year. I'm just glad I'm here at all. I have to make sure I stay in school so I can get out and get an indoor job that is safe and air conditioned."

Who can blame him for that ambition after what happened this summer? But what about the hit? Was it comparable to any he's taken on the football field?

"I would definitely have to rank that as the hardest one I have ever taken," Behrendt said. "I thought I broke my leg. I was pretty sure I was done with football. I got lucky.

"Somebody was looking out for me. It's still kind of unbelievable now not only that it happened, but that I am back playing football because that tractor took me down pretty quick and at that time I had no idea if I was going to be getting back up or not."

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