NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jordan Westerkamp’s last game as a Cornhusker was his last one, a tough loss to Iowa. The senior wide receiver injured his knee during bowl prep and is facing a two- to three-month recovery, but recovering from surgery wasn’t going to keep him from joining his teammates here for the Music City Bowl against Tennessee.
“Got my stitches out today so the process is going along where it should be,” Westerkamp, on crutches and wearing a knee brace, said during Nebraska’s practice at Vanderbilt University on Tuesday. “I’m obviously not happy with the circumstances. I’d do anything to be out there practicing and playing in this game. It kills me not to be out there.”
Westerkamp said the injury, a torn meniscus, happened near the end of one of the Huskers’ practices on a reverse handoff.
“I was making a little cut, not even a hard plant, in practice,” he said. “I took like 10 more steps up the field and it felt like something was moving in [my knee], knocking and clicking.”
An MRI later revealed that it wasn’t just a meniscus tear. There was also some slight chipping of the bones at the knee. What would have been a two- or three-week recovery was suddenly months.
This was Westerkamp’s second significant injury of the 2016 season.
“It’s been a tough year,” he said. “Had a freak back accident, breaking some bones in that. This. It’s been tough. It’s just kind of been how this year was with everybody on the team, injuries left and right. But this team is awesome. We’re strong. We’ve held together.”
The fact that Nebraska has dealt with perhaps more than its share of injuries this season, alongside some other trying off-the-field incidents, makes getting up to face Tennessee seem easy by comparison Westerkamp said.
“This team’s been through so much adversity. A tough loss to Iowa isn’t going to deter us too much. These guys have been preparing their butts off, getting after it, and they come out to every practice with enthusiasm. It’s good to see that,” Westerkamp said.
“It’s been tough, but it’s prepared these guys for this moment. More adversity at the end of the season with that loss to Iowa, but forget about it and get ready for this game. We earned a bowl spot, now let’s get ready and kick some butt.”