Brooks' return to NDSU lineup lasted one play, now coping with another injury
FARGO—North Dakota State sophomore Ty Brooks showed his value at Eastern Washington early last month when he returned a kickoff 41 yards. It came after the Eagles scored to take a 7-3 lead, which to date has been NDSU's only deficit this season.
Starting from near midfield, it didn't take the Bison long to regain the advantage. A 23-yard touchdown run from Lance Dunn culminated a drive that took only six plays, and the Bison took the lead for good on their way to a 40-13 non-conference football win.
After two years of working his way up the ladder, Brooks was finally part of a winning Bison equation.
The celebration was short-lived for the Fargo South graduate, however, starting with the charter flight back to Fargo. Initially thinking a bump on his lower leg was some sort of muscle spasm, his lower leg began to feel worse.
"And when I got home, my leg started numbing up from the shin down," Brooks said. "I couldn't feel my feet the next day."
The diagnosis: Compartment syndrome, the result of pressure from the swelling of muscle tissue. Brooks has no idea how or when he hurt his leg in the Eastern Washington game, but the remedy was taking it easy, meaning the running back sat out the Robert Morris and Missouri State games.
But No. 28 was back on the field last Saturday at Indiana State, and was part of the first play of the game on NDSU's kickoff coverage unit. And his return to the lineup lasted just that long—one play.
He tweaked his hamstring while taking out a blocker.
"He made a great play, knifing in there," said Bison head coach Chris Klieman.
Said Brooks: "I was sprinting down with no problems, moving faster than I have in a while. I ran my dude over but when I laid into him I felt my hamstring pop. I've never had it happen before but I knew what it was when it happened."
He'll miss Saturday's Missouri Valley Football Conference showdown at Youngstown State. Certainly, his explosiveness is a big part of NDSU's special teams, but the Bison also miss his participation in the occasional three-running back set behind quarterback Easton Stick.
Dunn and Bruce Anderson are the unquestioned 1-2 tailback combination, but the Bison have found value with three in the backfield in the last couple of years.
"It's also kind of frustrating in that my role started to increase a little bit," Brooks said, "and then the injuries happened."
He said he's gotten some encouraging words from teammates like linebacker Nick DeLuca, who told him there was nothing he could do about the injuries. Brooks also thinks about his teammates who have been lost for the season with ACL tears.
"It helps me cope, I guess," Brooks said. "I mean, they're not going to be back this year. I know I'm going to get back and that's what's pushing me forward."
What: North Dakota State at Youngstown State
When: 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday
Where: Stambaugh Stadium, Youngstown, Ohio
Radio: 107.9-FM, 92.7-FM, 1660-AM. TV: ESPN3