11.11.2010

Local Paper Profiles Doug Wilmot

The following article was published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal and was written by Jordan Kahn.

Nineteen-year-old Doug Wilmot from South Daytona is a safety at Greenville College in Illinois, and he has faced one of the biggest fears every athlete confronts in football's bone-crunching war of inches.

"As soon as it happened, I knew exactly what had happened," Wilmot said. "I tried going back on the field, but my trainer wouldn't let me.

"I was crushed. I had this thought going through my head that I would never step on the field again and that I wouldn't be a part of any of this again."

In the first game of the 2010 season, Wilmot tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee. The reason he knew what happened the instant it occurred is that the year before, in the third game of the season, he sustained the same injury to the same knee.

Despite all that, Panthers defensive backs coach, T.J. Gaylord, said, "We can only take so many players when we travel, but he's a guy I have to have just because of what he does for the team on the sideline and in the locker room."

It's certainly unusual when a player's worth as a teammate remains such an asset, despite two season-ending knee injuries in a row, two operations on the same knee in one calendar year.

Wilmot's support helped Greenville (7-3) finish the regular season with a six-game win streak.

"We've seen guys get injured and they vanish," Gaylord said. "Doug's a guy who's been at every meeting, every practice, every film session."

Wilmot only wishes he could add every snap to that list.

If it was a matter of playing through pain, he'd do it.

As a linebacker at Spruce Creek High School, he broke several fingers during a game, taped them up and got back on the field.

He grew up little-brother tough, thanks to the roughhousing of his brother, Andrew, who is two years older.

"We were always testing each other, seeing who's better at everything, wrestling and playing around," Wilmot said. "There was one time he threw me through the closet door because I beat him in a video game."

Wilmot remembers that as just good fun. And it's not just positive support for his teammates, competitive spirit and a love for physical contact that Wilmot has going for him.

When Wilmot arrived in camp at Greenville, he was the fourth-string safety, but that didn't last.

"All through camp, I worked hard and tried my best and eventually it came around to being the first game and they put me in as the starter," he said.

Before re-injuring his knee in his comeback season this year, he started off as second string, but again won the starting role.

"Doug is not a guy that you look at without pads and say, 'Man, this guy looks like a player!' " defensive coordinator Jake Schenk said. "But once everyone is padded up, Doug is one of our best playmakers. He just has a knack for making plays and is a very intelligent football player."

Wilmot is still a redshirt freshman this year. He missed most of his first year of school after coming home for knee surgery. And he says he wants to play again.

"Greenville College football," Wilmot said, before pausing, "to me, it means everything."

Greenville College Football © 2009 by Jered Schneider.

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