The archipelago on his chest and upper arms comes from a bicycle accident at age 9, when he struck by a car and spent more than week in a coma.
The dots on his left knee commemorate a September meniscus surgery.
Adrian Colbert’s newest scar, acquired a little more than a month ago, runs from the middle of the inside of his right forearm down to his wrist.
When he sees it, he is reminded that his college career that will end on his terms.
After missing the final month of the Hurricanes’ regular season, Colbert, a graduate student cornerback, will return for the Russell Athletic Bowl. It will be the last game for a 23-year-old who transferred from Texas last spring in search of playing time, respect and a resume piece to his pro career.
And he feels it will be “phenomenal,” just like the season as a whole.
Yes, he feels that way — despite the pain and the time spent on the sidelines.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve had the trails, being injured twice in the season and only being able to play [seven] games, but I cherish every moment I’ve been out here. Every day. It’s been a blessing with this staff and these players and everyone I’ve met in my time here.”
His stats – 18 tackles, one interception, three pass break-ups – aren’t impressive, but UM coach Mark Richt is betting Colbert will get a pro shot.
“He has shown that he’ll be physical. He has shown that he can run fast. He has shown that he’ll play special teams,” Richt said. “He has gotten their attention, I’m sure. One way or another, he’ll end up in an NFL camp, I’m certain of that.”
Colbert made an interception on a deep ball against Florida A&M and returned it 46 yards (“a heck of a pick,” Richt said). He tore the meniscus in his left knee in practice the next week, and missed UM’s games against Florida Atlantic and Appalachian State. After a bye, he returned Oct. 1 at Georgia Tech.
He steadily regained trust in his knee. On Oct. 29, he played the game of his life.
He set career highs in tackles (six) and pass break-ups (two). According to Pro Football Focus, Colbert allowed a miserly 16 yards on seven receiver targets.
He nearly made a one-handed interception in the end zone. He knocked running back Dexter Williams back four yards after a catch. His biggest play came with the Hurricanes down 20-17 late in the third quarter. Notre Dame called a screen pass on fourth-and-inches from the Miami 29. Colbert engaged a blocker, tossed him aside, and plowed into receiver C.J. Sanders for a 3-yard loss.
It caused NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock to tweet video clips of his work. “Was doing tape on 2 Miami DBs when a 3rd guy made himself known,” Mayock wrote. “Don’t know if Adrian Colbert can play – but will find out!”
Colbert didn’t get a chance to show more. His last tackle of the game came with 6:24 left in the fourth quarter and Miami up 27-20. Colbert, 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, dropped receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5, 205). He wrapped up with his left arm, but his right arm stopped with a thud on St. Brown’s knee. As a video replay showed, his forearm snapped.
Thinking it was a “stinger,” he said he played “a few plays” before his arm “kind of went dead. … I wasn’t sure if I could help my team like that. I would probably hurt us more than I could help.” On the sideline, a doctor told him it might be broken.
With so much at stake – in game of his life, after transferring, hoping to put together a season that impresses NFL scouts – Colbert shed tears as he ran off the field, toward the locker room, to get an x-ray.
“It was tough,” fellow senior cornerback Corn Elder said. “He was a bit down when it happened. I went in the locker room and I saw him. I couldn’t imagine how it felt … maybe thinking at that point he wouldn’t get another chance to play in college.”
He cops to watching tape of that game “about 100 times,” but he wasn’t down for long. He “kept a high spirit,” Elder said, and attacked his rehabilitation. In the process, he earned an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, another shot to show what he’s got. But first, the bowl, and his last time donning a jersey he’s proud to wear.
“He recovered quicker than most people thought,” Elder said. “It’s going to be exciting to go out there see him have fun and see what he does.”
Those scars, in Colbert’s view, reveal character.
“You see I’ve got a bunch,” he said. “It all tells a story.”