CRAWFORD | Petrino hopeful Jaylen Smith will make opener
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's been a hard-luck stretch, to say the least, for University of Louisville standout wide receiver Jaylen Smith.
A wrist injury and some other nagging ailments hampered him last season, though he still led the team with 60 catches for 980 yards and seven touchdowns. He passed on a chance to jump into the NFL Draft, then missed spring practice while healing up.
He had been looking forward to a healthy return to fall camp, but on the day the team reported to campus, started experiencing stomach pain. That turned out to be appendicitis, which required emergency surgery.
“It's just hard to believe,” Petrino said of the turn of events. “I think it was the day we reported. That would've been Thursday. I got a report that he was not feeling well. I was actually kidding him in the hallway about having a little tummy ache. But it didn't seem like there was anything big there. And then all of a sudden it didn't get better. Our trainer Matt (Summers) got him down to the doctor's and it's amazing that that happens, especially the day you're starting camp. But the operation went well. He's doing good."
Petrino not only has input from team doctors as to Smith's progress, but he also has input from his daughter, Katie, who had the same procedure as a golfer at U of L.
"She had that same deal during her golf career, so I called her up and said, 'Hey, how quickly did you come back?'" Petrino said. "She said for the first week I felt like I couldn't stand up and I couldn't bend over, but I think she said she was back golfing the third week after. So knock on wood, hope that he'll get back into it. But we're going to make sure that he's ready to go."
Petrino said he's hopeful that Smith will return for Louisville's season-opener against Alabama, though no one can say that definitively just yet. In the meantime, he said, Smith needs to remain as resilient as he has been.
"It's just another one of those things where he needs to keep a positive attitude and understand that it could've been worse," Petrino said. "He'll get to play football this year and do all the things. They're still sitting out there for him. But I'd sure like to have him out there helping our other guys get better.”
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