Virginia fifth-year senior wide receiver Matt Snyder said Thursday he plans to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Saturday, 10 weeks after breaking a bone in his left foot.
Snyder, who was the team’s third-leading receiver at the time he suffered the injury in mid-October, said he has been cleared to practice for the past few weeks and that the injury gave him renewed enthusiasm for the daily grind of practice and game preparation.
“I saw my football career end right in front of me, pretty much,” Snyder said. “You know it’s going to end at some point, but to have it taken from you halfway through the season, it was crushing. Just to get back out on the practice field with my teammates has been awesome. I can’t even wait for the game. I’m very excited.”
It’s unclear to what extent Snyder will be available Saturday. Coach Mike London’s comments Thursday implied that Snyder is not yet back to full speed.
“It’s great for him in his last game, after not being able to play the last couple, to go out and play his last game,” London said. “We might just call a play, throw a hitch route, let him catch it. I don’t know how fast he’ll go or if he’ll break any tackles, but we want to make sure all these guys have a memory of playing in a bowl game that means a lot to the program. Obviously, it means a lot to them.”
Snyder broke a bone in his left foot while running a routine route during practice Oct. 18. He underwent surgery to insert a screw into the foot three days later.
It wasn’t until Virginia defeated Maryland, 31-13, on Nov. 5 that Snyder became fully engaged in the rehab process. That was the Cavaliers’ sixth win of the season, which made them bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
“It’s tough to rehab when you feel like you don’t have much to work for,” Snyder said. “But [the Maryland win] gave me a reason to work, and hopefully I’ll do my part.”
Snyder started five of Virginia’s first six games this season, tallying 19 receptions for 220 yards. Last season – Snyder’s first as a major contributor on offense – he finished with 30 receptions for 393 yards. He joined the team as a walk-on in 2007.
“It’s like he hasn’t skipped a beat,” sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco said. “He’s out there running routes. His knowledge of the offense is just about as good as a quarterback’s, I’d say. He does everything the right way.”