Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Prochazka, Ervin Working their Way Back after Season-Ending Injuries

May 19, 2022

Sixteen Nebraska football players came together over the weekend for a great cause: raising money for the Special Olympics of Nebraska.

Elliott Brown, a redshirt freshman wide receiver, organized Nebraska Hoops Mania at Elkhorn South on Saturday, pitting a group of Husker football players against three different teams — the Special Olympics of Nebraska, a group of Elkhorn “celebrities” and a group of high school hoopers from Elkhorn — in a series of basketball games.

Among the football players who took part was Teddy Prochazka, the 6-foot-9 offensive tackle who played basketball for three years at Elkhorn South before focusing on football his senior year. Prochazka would have loved to show the Huskers fans that showed up what he could do, but he chose to play it safe instead and fill a different role for the team.

“I don’t know if you saw me, but I was hitting some 3s [during warm-ups],’ Prochazka said. “I was feeling loose, I was feeling good. I just think it’s probably smart for me to take a coaching role tonight.”

Coming off the knee injury that cut his freshman season short, Prochazka patrolled the sidelines throughout the evening, sending in a new sub every time somebody threw up an air-ball and doing very little else as the Huskers dropped all three games.

“We were 0-3, but I feel like there’s a lot to improve on,” Prochazka said. “The roster was pretty spotty. Honestly I’d prefer to be a player than a coaching this position, but I did what I could and we just couldn’t get the job done.”

Prochazka made his way into the starting lineup midway through the season, stepping in as the starting left tackle against Northwestern then starting again the following week against Michigan. However, it didn’t last long as Prochazka went down with what ended up being a season-ending left knee injury.

“I heard the pop,” Prochazka said. “Everyone says they hear the pop, I heard that.”

He knew immediately something was wrong, but had to wait until the MRI to learn the extent of the injury, which was the first major setback he had experienced.

“I didn’t know exactly what it all was right away,” Prochazka said. “I knew it was a pop, and they were telling me maybe meniscus. And then I did my MRI the next morning and they told me what all it was — MCL, ACL, meniscus. It was tough because I was really doing well and just started starting for two games and then it just kind of got yanked away from me. So it was pretty tough those first initial 24 hours.”

Prochazka said the toughest part of his journey post-surgery was being away from the team.

“You kind of feel isolated almost from what’s going on, especially because they were in season,” Prochazka said. “I was with them, but they were kind of moving in one direction and I kind of had to focus on myself instead of the team.”

Once he got through that separation period, Prochazka said being around his teammates is how he got through the rehab. Getting back on the field with them drove him forward.

“You build so many relationships with your teammates and being away from them for a little while is kind of tough and demanding on the mind, but once you’re back with them it’s so much easier,” Prochazka said.

The sophomore-to-be said his rehab is going well as he recently cleared a major milestone: he began running.

“I’m at about six-and-a-half months,” Prochazka said. “I would say percentage-wise, probably 80, 85%. I just started running last week and it’s kind of feeling good. I just started doing some more directional workouts. It’s kind of just a slow process.”

That good feeling wasn’t necessarily there the first time he tested out the leg, though it was his stamina that proved to be the problem for the 305-pound tackle.

“I quickly found out I wasn’t in the best shape, so that was quite the shock,” Prochazka said. “But it’s weird how quickly you just get back into that routine of this is how it should feel to run. It’s weird because my knee is different know, but it’s just kind of weird how you fall back into that groove that you had before.”

Prochazka is the future at left tackle for Nebraska, and he’s counting down the days until he can get back on the field and resume doing what he loves.

“I’ve just got that date of fall camp,” Prochazka said. “Once that starts I’m going to kind of just let loose a little bit because I’ve been kind of almost held down. I’m just excited to get back for fall camp.”

While Prochazka stuck to coaching, another freshman who saw his season ended prematurely did choose to lace up the sneakers and show the fans what he can do. Gabe Ervin Jr., who opened the season as Nebraska’s starting running back, played in four games before suffering a patellar tendon injury in his right knee.

Ervin showed no signs of the injury on Saturday, attacking the basket fearlessly and showing some aggressiveness on defense.

Prochazka and Ervin both figure to play big roles for the Huskers over the next few years, and if Saturday was any indication they’re both progressing well as the Huskers prepare for summer conditioning.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap