Washburn outside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, considered a starter prior to the beginning of the season, may be lucky to play at all this season after suffering a leg injury in practice.
“It’s kind of week to week,” said head coach Craig Schurig about the injury. “He’s got a lower leg stress fracture. It’s something that, next week, hopefully it feels better. If it doesn’t, were kind of just week to week with him. We’d love to play him. And he’d love to play. But we’ll kind of hold him out until he feels better.”
Wilhoite said the stress fracture is in his right shin and had been bothering him for a long time, though he thought it was only shin splints. After trying to work through the pain, he decided to go to a specialist, where he found out the injury was actually a much more burdensome ailment.
“It’s taking time,” said Wilhoite. “It’s kind of a thing where you want it to be healed as fast as possible but there’s not a whole lot you can do for it, you know. You can numb the pain but you can’t cure it. You can’t cure a fractured bone.”
Wilhoite said he wants to be able to come back for the Missouri Western game on September 19, and if he can’t make it back by then, he would consider a medical redshirt. Wilhoite is scheduled to wear fallen teammate Ben Muir’s jersey number against Missouri Western.
“I’m looking at it like if I have to come back next year it’ll be a fresh start,” said Wilhoite. “We have a lot of guys coming back. We’ll still have a really good team, if not a better team. So I’m just staying positive. I’ll be another year older and mature mentally. But if I’m a year older and a year more mature, how can I go wrong with that? How can I go wrong with having a fresh start and being healthy for all 11 or eight games? So, there are a lot of positives that can come out of missing another year, also.”
Schurig said if Wilhoite is able to perform at a high level throughout the season, he would consider letting the senior linebacker finish out the year. However, if the fracture needs 10 weeks to heal, he considers the medical redshirt to be the best option.
“We have to wait and see,” said Schurig. “You know he wants to play and we want him to play. During the course of the year, if he’s medically unable to play, then he could look into getting a medical redshirt. And then use his last semester in the fall next year. Like Eric Lawrence, who did that last year.”
Wilhoite said he will continue to be positive about the injury and take things in stride.
“This is my first major injury, in college, especially,” said Wilhoite. “I had minor ones in high school but for college this is my first injury. Mentally, it affected me quite a bit, at first. I’m starting to get over it a little bit. Just starting to put it in God’s hands and pray on it. At first you want blame it on this person, you know. Get mad, frustrated and cry. But I’ve kind of gotten past that now. So now I’m just trying to be positive.”