When 2017 Clemson signee Matt Bockhorst injured his ACL the summer before his senior season, it would have been easy for him to sit on the sideline and feel sorry for himself.
Unfortunately for Clemson opponents, Bockhorst does not play that way. Once June rolls around, Clemson fans should expect to see him out on the practice field competing.
As the summer approaches Bockhorst said that it is starting to become more and more real that he will become a Clemson Tiger.
“I think over the last month I have really narrowed my focus almost entirely on my preparation for getting on campus,” Bockhorst said. “I am very competitive and I want to be able to show up on June 25 in the best shape of my life even though I will be less than a year out of ACL reconstruction.”
Returning to play less than a year after such a tough ACL injury? In the best shape of his life? That’s a difficult feat for any athlete, let alone an offensive lineman that relies so much on lateral motion.
But Bockhorst said that the injury changed his outlook on life and made him mentally stronger.
“From a mental standpoint I can’t even begin to explain how far I’ve come,” he said. “Throughout the course of injuring myself, getting surgery, going through rehab and all of the many other daily struggles that go along with it, I can look back and say I have a new perspective, work ethic and respect for the game.”
Bockhorst said that he is improving every day in his recovery, and with crunch time just around the corner, he is zeroing in on his target.
“I am really turning the corner in my recovery and I am feeling very comfortable doing many of the things I did before the surgery like running suicides and doing heavy sets of squat and deadlift,” Bockhorst said. “Physically, these past couple of weeks have been huge for me. The process is not over and I still am working on getting my strength deficit to almost 0% but I am happy with the progress I have made.”
Even after losing his senior season, a year that his team won the state championship, as well as preparation time, Bockhorst believes that injuring his ACL helped him in many ways.
“I think the guys who are most successful in college are the guys who know how to face adversity and use it to ignite something within them,” he said. “Personally, this injury was the first true adversity I had faced as an athlete, and that hunger to play, the mental discipline to go workout on Saturday mornings, those things are now ingrained in my fabric.
As Bockhorst begins a new chapter in his life, he’s excited to become a Clemson Tiger. He will also be reunited with his brother who plays football for nearby Furman University.
“One thing I am very excited about is being close to my brother,” he said. “That was kind of the initial factor in my recruitment from Clemson and it is something I take seriously because my family is very close. So we will be able to see each other pretty often and kind of be there for each other and support one another.”
Bockhorst’s comeback story shows how mentally tough and tenacious of a person he is, and that should only help through his many tests during his journey at Clemson.
“Workouts are going to be hard and there’s things that are going to happen that are out of my control. It’s my choice how to respond to those things,” Bockhorst said. “This experience has prepared me for the tough times I will face in college and beyond.”