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December 18, 2011It was during a preseason workout that Kris Frost's true freshman season quickly faded away.
"We were benching, doing incline bench," Frost said. "I turned my elbow in, and it popped out the back and all the weight kind of fell on me. It wasn't the most fun experience. I was grabbing my leg and my arm at the same time. I wasn't sure what was really hurt."
The linebacker was told by the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews that there was an initial shoulder injury that could have happened during Frost's senior season at Butler (Matthews, N.C.) High School.
"I think I do remember falling on my shoulder," Frost said. "Over time, it got worse -- the Shrine Bowl and then the All-American game -- it got worse and worse."
Frost was considered the nation's No. 2 outside linebacker and state of North Carolina's No. 1 overall recruit by Rivals in 2011. A recruit report described Frost as being "off the charts athletically."
After undergoing surgery to repair the tear in August, the highly-touted Frost had to watch the 2011 season unfold from the sidelines.
Head coach Gene Chizik said it was likely that Frost would have played as a true freshman this year.
"When we evaluated him, that's what we thought," Chizik said. "But we never got a chance to find out."
Frost feeling frustrated and disheartened about his situation is an understatement.
"Of course, it was tough when I first got injured," Frost said. "I didn't expect it to be such a bad injury to the point where I had to get redshirted and sit out.
"It was a really big blow. I had a lot of high expectations for myself. I felt like the coaches did also. All the freshmen were competing to see who would make the biggest impact on the team and I was right up there in that competitive nature about myself. When I got hurt, it was a big blow on the whole fact of being around the team. I wasn't able to be around the team as much. When they'd have meetings, I was kind of downstairs in the training room getting treatment at 5:30 or 6 in the morning every morning while they were out doing walk-throughs."
But with the support of teammates and coaches, Frost found the motivation to keep his head up and focus on getting his health back.
"Every Coach moved me along and the players really helped me," Frost said. "My freshman class is a really good one when it comes to talent and just being supportive in terms of all the people who have been injured and redshirted. We've had quite a few injuries, quite a few surgeries. We all really did a good job sticking together and they really pushed me along through the season."
After months of rehabilitation and rest, Frost has been declared healthy enough to join his teammates for bowl practice.
Although he is wearing the dreaded no-contact orange jersey, Frost, who now weighs about 225 pounds, is working at both outside linebacker positions.
"I look like a quarterback," Frost said. "Everybody's kind of teasing me that I look like a quarterback."
This week, it is hoped that Frost will be able to don a white defense jersey and get physical.
Nothing would make Frost happier.
"Oh my gosh," Frost said. "I haven't hit anybody since January."
In retrospect, though, Frost is glad he redshirted since it gave him time to adjust to the ins and outs of college football. Toward the end of the season, Frost was signaling in plays from the sidelines.
"For one thing, getting to know the plays and the playcalls and terminology of things really is half the battle as it is," Frost said. "The mental stuff on the field will come due to repetition and everything.
"(Signaling) really helped me a whole lot. Each outside linebacker, how they reacted to each play and fits and everything. Doing those hand signals on the field really got me thinking quicker on a college level instead of trying to evolve from high school.
"I guess it was good I got redshirted. I didn't get any bad habits. I'm still fresh. At the same time, when it comes to terminology, football is football, especially on the college level. When it comes to the terminology, coming from high school, you're not really going to know everything they're talking about when they say 'apex' between the receiver and the tackle, that's really the main thing, is getting the terminology down."
After practicing for just a few days, Frost is working toward getting back in the groove of being a football player. He has also set a goal of weighing 230 pounds.
"With pure muscle and speed," Frost said.
Rivals.com looks back at the 2010 Blacksburg (Va.) NIKE Camp, where Kris Frost turned in a Rivals100 worthy performance
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