NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Even from a wheelchair, paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand continues to inspire the Scarlet Knights.
Ten months after LeGrand suffered a serious spinal injury making a special teams tackle against Army, the defensive tackle was at the team’s media day Sunday.
“I’ve been able to stand for up to 40 minutes, and per hour about an average of 30 to 35 minutes,” the defensive tackle said. “I’m getting ready to sign up for locomotive (treadmill) training to re-train my legs to start walking again.”
LeGrand plans to be on the sidelines of every home game this season and as many road games as possible and his teammates hope to feed off his presence.
“I didn’t get a chance to be as close to him as I would have liked, but for a lot of those guys he was really close with, it will be extra motivation knowing he’s there,” sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd said. “They want to do it for him and put on a show for him.”
LeGrand’s progress has been updated through Twitter, where he has over 18,000 followers, and on national TV appearances. Defensive tackle Scott Vallone says LeGrand has become a role model for the Scarlet Knights and the nation.
“He epitomizes what any person would want to be like, by having so much adversity and being able to come back,” Vallone said. “He’s always kept a positive attitude. It’s great to see that. It inspires all of us.”
LeGrand welcomes the chance to help, but won’t put himself on a pedestal.
“I hope to be (inspirational), but it’s hard for me to say that,” LeGrand said. “Those are my teammates. You don’t really say to your teammates `I’m your inspiration.’
“Those are my brothers right there. We go to war together. I would give up anything to be out there with them fighting.”
LeGrand said there is not one question he hasn’t been asked about his injury, from what he remembered of the devastating hit to how long it will take for him to walk. He patiently provides the best answers he can.
He notes there is no timetable for such an injury, as it depends on how each person’s how body and mind react. LeGrand is now able to slightly lift his right arm, and has sensation through his body.
“It feels great to have that, but when it comes back all the way, that will be even greater,” he said. “I’m just thankful everything is happening so fast.”
Through it all, LeGrand’s mother, Karen, has been his biggest supporter, but has treated him no differently.
“She’s going to be Mom, just like she was before,” he said. “We feed off each other’s energy and I stay positive. We argue like 5-year-old kids. She says `Do this!’ I say `I don’t want to do this.’ She’s been my inspiration.”
Just as he inspires his teammates.
“Before he got hurt he was the same guy as he is now,” receiver Mohammed Sanu said. “So just to have him around, and just to see that same personality that’s in him, it drives me every day.”
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