Don't Count Him Out

GoHens.net INTERVIEW WITH JAKE GIUSTI

72 Hen, GoHens.net special correspondent
September 8, 2011

Jake Giusti has been a topic of discussion on the GoHens.net website since he was injured during the National Championship Game, January 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. Many have wondered when he would get back on the field. Most people have projected that he would miss the entire 2011 season. Well, I had the opportunity to get the facts directly from Jake himself. I hope you enjoy getting to know Jake a little better.

GoHens: Jake, I was in Frsico, and I have a lasting memory of you coming off the field and being taken to the trainers table. I kept my eye on you for a while and watched as you motioned to someone in the stands and tried to relate the extent of the injury. Who were you motioning to and what were you saying?

Giusti: I was motioning to my family. They were in the stands and pretty close to me. My sister and I took sign language in high school so I was signing to her. I signed that the medical staff told me that it was my ACL and MCL and that there was a tear.

GoHens: I remember talking with the parent of one of your teammates the next day and he was pretty upset by the way the injury happened. What was your assignment on that play and could you relate what happened?

Giusti: Yea, I was running down on kick-off. I’m the contain player and my job was to keep containment. While I was running down I figured that I could make the tackle so before the tackle and while I was cutting on my right knee I got blocked in the back. It was one of those freak accidents where just as I was cutting my foot got stuck in the ground, my knee went in one direction and my body went in the other direction. I felt two pops on my way down. I tried to get up right away but it just felt like it was weighing me down. I knew right away that I messed it up pretty bad when I felt the pops because I never stay down when I’m injured. I always hop right back up and keep playing but this one kept me down.

GoHens: Have you ever had a problem with your knee before?

Giusti: No sir, this is the only time.

GoHens: It seems to me that when you left the field it was one of the turning points of the game because the defensive backfield assignment changed. How would you describe the nature of your assignment that game? And how were the DB’s switched around when you went down?

Giusti: Well, I was the dime back and when I got injured we had several other players that could play that position besides me. You know, Coach Rappone is a great coach and he made his calls. We just didn’t execute. That’s all that really happened. We played a great game all around, they were a second half team and we just couldn’t stop them. I don’t know what else to say.

GoHens: One thing I noticed was Anthony Walters playing up so close to the line he looked like a linebacker. Was that a big change.

Giusti: Actually that was a safety blitz formation and Anthony had done that a couple of times throughout the season. It just was something that happened during the game.

GoHens: OK, let’s move ahead a bit, when you got back from Texas and saw the doctors what was their initial timetable for your recovery and for your return to contact?

Giusti: Well, I had an MRI and they said I should wait a month before I had surgery. That way my MCL could heal by itself, which it did. As far as playing football again they were thinking 6 to 8 months.

GoHens: What type of rehab schedule have you been on?

Giusti: Even before the surgery I did everything I could to rehab and strengthen the muscles around the knee. The plan was to strengthen the muscles and the MCL. That worked and I ended up only needing surgery on my ACL. Dan and John have been working with me, in rehab, every day five or six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. We would do band work, running and anything to strengthen the muscle around the knee and to strengthen the ligaments as much as possible. In the strength room Coach Morrelli and Coach Hess have been working with me to help me get back. I would say that the rehab went very well and the knee feels great. As far as my speed is concerned, I feel like I have not lost a step. I feel as fast and quick and agile as before.

GoHens: All pre-season we have been getting reports from people who know you that have been saying, “don’t count Jake out for 2011”. And we have had first hand reports from some of our website posters that while your teammates were banging heads you were off by yourself and working like crazy to get back. Recently, you have been spotted working with the safeties at practice. Do you expect to play in 2011? And do you expect to be close to 100%?

Giusti: This whole thing is a process and I have done everything I could to get through the process. At the end of the process I expect to be 100%. The staff knows what they are doing and they have a process for this type of thing. And I am very happy with the whole process. Right now I am getting a lot of practice reps and working myself back into it and my knee feels great. I feel like I’m almost ready to go.

GoHens: We are a little inexperienced at safety. That being the case do you think you would have been switched to safety regardless of the injury?

Giusti: Well, in high school I played safety and when I got here they put me at corner. Then they told me during the summer that they needed me to learn the safety position. Not because we’re thin but just because they want me to learn another position. You know, I’m working to get a starting job and it doesn’t matter where. As long as I am on that defense, starting, I will be happy. I can play safety, I can play corner, nickel, dime, hawk, it doesn’t matter. I know all the positions.

GoHens: Last week on the pre-game show the team doctor said that you might be ready to come back next week. Is that legit?

Giusti: We are talking about the possibility of me coming back for West Chester.

GoHens: Thanks for talking us through your injury and recovery. Now I would like to cover a few other things. Do you set goals for yourself? If so what are your goals for 2011 both for yourself and for the team?

Giusti: Of course I set goals. My first goal is to get back on the field. After that it is my goal to be a starter for the next three years. Finally, I want to earn some All American status. Team goals are to win the Conference Championship and then the National Championship. Throughout all the adversity we go through, all the injuries the goal is still the same and that is to win as many championships as we possibly can.

GoHens: In addition to yourself, Delaware has recruited a lot of fine football players from the state of Florida. What makes the caliber of football played in Florida so good?

Giusti: In Florida we have spring football. Many states don’t have that. So that gives us about 30 more practices and we actually play two more games in the spring. Then if your team goes on to play for a championship that’s another 5 games. That’s a lot of extra time Florida kids get learning and practicing football. On top of that we have a lot of great coaches, coaches that even came from the 1A coaching ranks.

GoHens: Tell us a little about your recruiting experience? What coach recruited you? What made you decide on Delaware?

Giusti: Coach Petite was my recruiting coach. He recruited me and Jamaul Christopher. He was always so passionate and showed a lot of love for my family. I didn’t get that feeling with other schools that were recruiting me. And when I came to visit Delaware it just felt right and I knew I wanted to be here.

GoHens: Finally, Jake, how difficult was it for you, not being on the field, last week at Navy? And how do we move forward?

Giusti: I was very difficult being on the sideline. That was the first game that I ever missed. On top of that, it was the opener. It would have been great to play in front of that crowd and with all that tradition. And I knew a couple of players on the Navy team. Most of all I missed not being able to help my teammates. As far as moving ahead, you just have to put this game out of your mind and we are already thinking about West Chester.

GoHens: Jake, thank you so very much for spending some time with GoHens.net. We are all looking forward to watching you for the next three years.

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