Hurricanes linebacker Darrion Owens on injury: ‘I’ve got to trust it’

By Steve Gorten, Special to the Post

CORAL GABLES – Linebacker Darrion Owens practiced Thursday for the first time since seriously injuring his right knee in the Hurricanes’ second game last season, and was encouraged afterward.

“Everything feels good,” said Owens, noting he felt some soreness but no pain. “It’s just like I’ve got to trust it. I’m running around and I do something [and I think], ‘Oh, I can actually do this.’ So it’s just a mind thing right now. So I’m battling with that. Get that over with and I’m fine.”

Owens, who was a starter as a sophomore last season when he sustained ACL and meniscus tears against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 11, practiced mostly with the third team Thursday, behind freshman Michael Pinckney and redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier.

(RELATED: Check out the amazing photos from the Hurricanes’ first day of practice)

Coach Mark Richt said the plan is to have Owens work at one of the inside linebacker spots this month and see how he progresses.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to practice every single day, but it’s hard to come off an injury and be in that kind of condition and not fatigue in the area you were injured,” Richt said. “Usually, every once in a while there’s a practice or part of a practice that you step out of. But so far he has done well.”

Owens said he felt good physically after Thursday’s practice and doesn’t plan on sitting out any practices leading up to the Hurricanes’ season opener Sept. 3. After undergoing surgery in late September, he went through a “tough” rehab, of which the “hardest part was getting my flexibility back.”

For now, the Hurricanes’ linebacker corps features two freshmen – Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman – slated to start and another (Zach McCloud) competing for significant playing time.

Darrion Owens during UM's community service stop at Carver Elementary in May. (Matt Porter)

Darrion Owens during UM’s community service stop at Carver Elementary in May. (Matt Porter)

“I see them as veterans, really,” Richt said. Two of them are lining up with the first team and McCloud is getting a lot of reps…he’ll be fighting for a starting job, too.

“They went through spring ball, which is huge. Really, they’ve had as much experience in this defensive scheme as anybody.”

Owens played with Quarterman at Oakleaf High in Orange Park. And he has known Pinckney since middle school when Pinckney’s grandmother lived “next door.”

“I always had high expectations for them, so I’m proud of how they’ve come in and played,” Owens said. “Whenever they need help, I go to them. Those guys, they study a lot, so they’re smart, too.

“I feel like they’re ready,” he added. “They came in with the mindset that they were going to get stuff done. They don’t act like usual freshmen. You couldn’t tell they were freshmen unless you looked at their ages.”

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