When a Boston College player fell on his foot midway through the third quarter Saturday, Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor didn’t think much of it. He’d hurt his shoulder and knee in the past, and this didn’t feel like those injuries. So Taylor tried to play the next snap.
And even as he stood on the sideline wearing a protective boot on his right foot, Taylor was still hoping for the best. But then an MRI exam and X-ray on Sunday confirmed the worst. He had a Lisfranc sprain that would require season-ending surgery.
But if there is one silver lining to losing Virginia Tech’s leading tackler the past two seasons, it’s that the injury ensures Taylor will be back in Blacksburg for his senior season instead of declaring for the NFL draft.
“I don’t feel like I have enough games under my belt for me to make that jump,” Taylor said Monday, adding that he was leaning toward returning to school even before the injury occurred. “Anybody can put their neck out there. How they fare, though, is different. The most important thing for me is getting my degree and stuff, so I’m just working on that.
“I graduate in the spring and next year I’ll come back and I could be focused more on football and getting my body right for the next level. I don’t want to put a halfway finished piece when I go for my audition. I want to be 100 percent.”
Taylor has the size (6 feet 2, 243 pounds) and deceptive closing speed suited for an NFL linebacker, and since entering Virginia Tech’s starting lineup last season his impact has been felt all over the field. A second-team all-ACC selection a year ago, Taylor led the Hokies in tackles with 53 through eight games this season and was second on the team with five sacks.
“It’s unfortunate for Bruce and unfortunate for us because he was having an all-star kind of season,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “Like he played last year, I thought he was maybe a notch better.”
Now Taylor faces a long road to recovery. He’ll have surgery next week and then be off his feet for the next six to eight weeks. From there, he’ll start running on underwater and anti-gravity treadmills as part of his rehabilitation. Chances are, though, he won’t be ready for full contact again until next summer.
For those wondering, Taylor is not eligible for a medical redshirt because he played more than 30 percent of Virginia Tech’s games this year. He redshirted during his freshman year in 2008 and will be a fifth-year senior next season.
But Taylor was in good spirits on Monday, and even made light of how he took over the middle linebacker job because of Barquell Rivers’s quad injury and now Rivers is getting another starting opportunity because of Taylor’s foot injury.
“You always want to see a guy do good, especially in his situation, how he’s doing so good and then have the injury kind of like how I’m going through now,” Taylor said of Rivers. “People always root for a guy like that and him being a senior, I feel like we’ll start to look up to him more, especially as the season goes on and he’s playing more.”