|Koger making progress toward recovery|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
A captain for the Wolverines’ football squad a year ago, tight end Kevin Koger ended his Michigan career about as well as he could have hoped. After three years watching the program struggle, he helped lead the team to a resurgent 11-2 season, culminating in a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. Setting his sights on the NFL, the Toledo, Ohio native was struck with adversity as he was preparing to start a pro career.
Just a month before the NFL Draft, Koger was working out with teammates when he felt a pop. He had suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon.
“It was after pro day and we were just doing normal training,” he recalled. “I was doing plyometrics and I came down – it’s not like I came down awkwardly – I came down regularly. Basically it was just a freak accident … I think Coach [Brady] Hoke put it best, ‘it’s football – people get hurt.’”
While the injury may have delayed Koger’s aspirations of making it in the NFL, he remains determined to recover from the setback. Noting that he is four months into rehabbing an injury that can take eight months to recover from, he has relied heavily on the expertise of former Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis toward reaching his goal.
“He’s just been having me do the normal work,” said Koger. “At least three days a week I’ve been driving up there. Not too much has changed. I can do a lot more than one would probably expect with a surgically repaired Achilles.
“I’ve been jogging for about two and half weeks so far. It’s somewhere between a jog and a sprint. When the doctor told me I could finally jog, I was pretty excited. I might have started a little too early, because it was pretty weak, but the more I jog on it, the more strength I’ve been building up, so I’m just trying to push it as far as I can.”
In facing the hardship of an injury and working through the recovery process, Koger has maintained a positive attitude about his future.
“You can’t get too down, because at the end of the day, this is the life that I chose and this is one of the risks associated with that,” he stated. “If you’re not ready to deal with it then obviously I think you’re in the wrong profession.
“Stuff like this happens. It happened to me, but I think I can get through it.”
Koger is already preparing for the process of reintroducing himself to NFL teams, and anticipates few problems once he has made the recovery.
“I’ve just been trying to get healthy as soon as possible and try to get in before the year is over,” explained the former Wolverine tight end. “I’ve got a great agent in Rick Smith. He just told me to let him know when I’m healthy and it won’t be a problem getting some workouts with some teams. He’s done a great job for me. He’s helped me out through this whole process, staying positive.”
While Koger still has some time before he can step back onto the football field and play, he is eager to watch how his college team performs without him. Keeping in close contact with his former teammates, he is looking forward to seeing what the Wolverines will accomplish this fall.
“They started camp a couple days ago, but up until then I talked to a couple guys on the team regularly,” he noted. “They’re still my guys. They’re still some of my best friends in the entire world, so I still hang out with them.
“There’s a lot of excitement right now. They just want to build off of last year. They thought last year was a failure because they didn’t win a Big Ten Championship – so rightfully so. They’re working toward that Big Ten Championship. They’re excited about that first game against Alabama – it will be a great chance for them to show the country what they can do. There’s just a lot of excitement.”