LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A little more than a week ago, everybody was giving Jaylen Smith a hard time. He was in some serious stomach pain, doubling over at times in the wide receiver team meeting room as the University of Louisville football team was preparing to start preseason camp the next day.

Smith was ready, having battled through a wrist injury last season, having passed on the NFL Draft in the hopes of a healthy senior year.

But here he was, in increasing pain, but still showing up for team meetings. He looked awful, and everybody let him know.

“They all,” Smith said. “I was walking around, beat up all day. In the meetings I had my head in my hands and was slouched up all over. They all know that’s not like me. I had no energy. Coaches kept messing with me. ‘You look sick.’ I was taking all kinds of stuff trying to fix it.”

Later, even head coach Bobby Petrino said he felt bad for kidding Smith about having a “little tummyache.”

It turned out to be more than that. When Smith couldn’t handle the pain anymore, he went to the doctor for testing and learned that he had acute appendicitis. All of a sudden his plans for smooth sailing in the preseason were gone.

“You wish it didn’t happen, but the pain I was feeling was a lot worse than what I can describe,” Smith said. “I was like, whatever it takes to get this out. We looked up different results from it. Some people were out as little as 10 days, some people as much as 4-5 weeks. I feel like me being an athlete, I’ll be back in the shorter time.”

As far as another stroke of bad luck, Smith said he can handle it. He’s had much worse.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “A lot worse. I’ve experienced numerous hurricanes, including hurricane Katrina. We were in numerous mobile homes after that, and here and there for months and months, had to change schools. Even then, I was 8 or 9 years old, I didn’t realize the impact that had on my life.”

Smith says it has helped give him perspective. Momentary setbacks don’t take the smile off his face. Asked if he thinks he’ll make the opener against Alabama, he said, “I’m not a betting man, but I’d bet on it.”

“I think I’ll be back first game,” he said. “That will be well over four weeks after surgery. One of the quarterbacks for the Kansas City Chiefs, I believe, missed 11 days and came back and played in a game. It’s one of those things that everybody’s body reacts different, but I feel like I’m pretty good at coming back, either from the worst of the worst or the simple stuff.”

 

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