Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It was already safe to say that Alabama senior nose tackle Josh Chapman -- the anchor for one of the greatest rush defenses of college football's past decade -- was one of the nation's best players this past season. It turns out he may also have been one of the toughest.
Chapman revealed Wednesday that he had undergone knee surgery the previous day and would be missing both the Senior Bowl and most of the upcoming NFL Draft Combine. The surgery repaired both a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his left knee.
But neither the details of nor the fallout from Chapman's injury are nearly as attention-grabbing as when that injury occurred: October 1, in the Crimson Tide's 38-10 victory over Florida.
"Normally I can deal with pain pretty well, but after three days I needed an MRI," Chapman told the Birmingham News. "Dr. (Lyle) Cain said he's never seen a guy that can have a torn ACL and still stay that stable."
How stable? Despite the injury, Chapman missed just one of the Tide's final eight games, an intended light workout vs. FCS Georgia Southern that turned much more serious when -- thanks in part to Chapman's absence -- the triple-option Eagles ran for a stunning 302 yards.
The late surgery won't allow Chapman to be at his best for the pro scouts, but given what was at stake for the Tide, he says he never considered a premature end to his senior season.
"I didn't really want to give up like that," he said. "I enjoyed playing. As long as it stayed right, I could play."
Chapman played all right, returning from the absence vs. GSU to help the Tide allow zero offensive points over their final eight quarters (Auburn scored touchdowns on defense and special teams) and win the national title. Despite finishing the season with just 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, and one sack, Chapman is still ranked the 77th prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com, the 20th-best defensive tackle, and a possible second-round selection.
Not bad for a guy playing on one knee for two-thirds of the season.
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