Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNC's Crumpler Hopes to Stay Healthy after Knee Surgery

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNC's Crumpler Hopes to Stay Healthy after Knee Surgery

Article excerpt

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Alge Crumpler jokingly refers to the 6-inch scar on the inside of his left knee as his zipper.

"My zipper is always going to be there," North Carolina's junior tight end said yesterday of a nasty scar left by last spring's knee surgery. "I just hope I never have to unzip it."

Crumpler, an all-ACC second-team selection after a solid sophomore season, went down on the first play of the first scrimmage of 1998 spring practice, tearing two ligaments and cartilage that threatened his promising career.

And as Crumpler crumbled to the turf, so did much of North Carolina's offensive potential.

"In my opinion, if we had Alge Crumpler last year, we don't lose the first two ball games," said Terry Lewis, tight end coach for UNC.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder remembered the play he got hurt on, a defender rolling onto his leg.

"I actually walked off the field. I wasn't in very much pain," Crumpler said during the second stop on the ACC Football Tour. "I was told I tore some nerves, that's why I wasn't in excruciating pain. I was ready to go back out there and play."

But an hour later Crumpler was in the hospital and told of the bad news -- he would have to have major knee surgery and would miss the 1998 season.

"At the time I didn't know how devastating the knee injury was," he said. "A lot of athletes think they aren't going to be injured even though you're playing in an injury sport. But things like that are going to happen. You have to take them as a learning process."

Crumpler did. Instead of withdrawing from the team as some injured athletes tend to do, Crumpler became somewhat of an assistant coach, encouraging players from the sidelines and absorbing the ins-and-outs of his position.

"He constantly watched those guys and he knew exactly whether they did good or bad and he was in their faces," said Lewis, who has coached tight ends or offensive linemen for 29 years.

"I was shocked at his knowledge of the game. He was a pretty darn good assistant coach to me last year. His overall game has been enhanced by looking at things from a different perspective. …

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