Stanford’s Bryce Love could have entered the NFL draft after the 2017 season, when he rushed for 2,118 rushing yards, won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top college running back and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.
He didn’t, surprisingly returning to the Cardinal for what turned out to be an injury-plagued senior season (he said he came back partly because of his teammates and partly to finish his undergraduate degree in human biology, as he plans to become a pediatrician when he’s done playing football). Though he played in 10 games, he rushed for just 739 yards and topped the 100-yard mark just once. And, on his final play of Stanford’s final regular season game on Dec. 1, he suffered one last injury that now seems likely to send his NFL draft stock plummeting. On Friday, he revealed to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel that he tore an ACL in his right knee, undergoing surgery with orthopedist James Andrews on Dec. 18.
“I’m very grateful to Dr. Andrews and his team for making the surgery a seamless process,” Love said in a statement to Thamel. “Obviously, there’s no such thing as an ideal injury, but I’m on the path to recovery, and my goal remains the same — getting drafted by an NFL team and being the ultimate professional. I’ll be back better than I’ve ever been.”
Love skipped the Cardinal’s Sun Bowl win over Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve, announcing on Dec. 17 — one day before the surgery — that he wanted to “focus on being completely healthy and prepared for the 2019 NFL draft” but not revealing the ACL tear.
Love will miss next month’s NFL combine, as recovery from a torn ACL usually takes between three and six months, but he should be ready for NFL training camp this summer, assuming all goes as planned (he’s expected to make a full recovery).
Entering the season, Love was seen as likely the top running back available in the 2019 draft, but the ACL injury, plus the ankle issues that dogged him throughout the season, have raised questions about his durability among NFL talent scouts. One recent mock draft, filled out before the injury news, has Love going late in the third round to the New York Jets.
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