Special to FAMU Athletics
by TREVOR SCOTT & Florida A&M Sports Information
TALLAHASSEE, FLA – FAMU football athlete John Ojo’s final season put on hold indefinitely after suffering a debilitating injury this season.
As John Ojo, a student of the School of Architecture and Florida A&M University Football senior, leans his crutches against the medical training room wall, he gazes down at the soft padding that casts his right foot for support pondering on a prospering future with football.
“Just like coach Taylor always says, ‘a set back is a set up from a great comeback,'” Ojo said.
Ojo, a Tallahassee native and 2008 Florida High School graduate, played safety for the Seminoles and served as one of the team’s captains.
The 205-pound and 6-foot-3 inch senior, once looked anxiously to this upcoming season. Especially after performing well last season and having an effective off-season training program.
“He has great work ethic and never misses workouts,” said Russell Barbarino, FAMU head strength and conditioning coach. “We miss his leadership ability this year.”
But, during the second game of the season against the University of Oklahoma Sooners, Ojo suffered an injury and hasn’t played a down since. After an evaluation by the team’s medical staff, he was diagnosed with level three turf toe which is the hyperextension of the toe at the worst level.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a severe chronic injury,” said Ojo.
After further evaluation it was apparent that he was going to need surgery so his toe could properly heal.
“After I found out that I was going to have surgery, it was breath-taking,” Ojo added.
This feeling of dispair was something that Ojo was relatively familiar with, because injury was something he experienced during his very first game in here at FAMU, where an opposing player rolled over his foot while he was standing and broke his ankle during a fourth quarter punt return in 2008.
” I was in shock, it was the first game and the second week of school,” Ojo said.
After word spread about his injury former coaches as well as teammates like Tyrone Brantley, his former roommate and freshman receiver from Ft. Lauderdale at the time who suffered the same injury in high school, reached out to him and gave very encouraging words to help deal with his set back.
“People texted me to make sure that I was okay and to make sure I stayed focused which was a great feeling,” Ojo said.
Those words proved to the spark that fueled Ojo to persevere and he became determined to do all he could to return to the field and continue to play football, something he had done since he was seven years old.
“I participated in rehab sessions and just went from there, I didn’t start running again until four months after I was injured”
During that window of time, Ojo received a medical red-shirt, a term used in college athletics to describe a temporary delay or suspension of an athlete’s participation as a result of an injury.
His chance to return to field didn’t come until the fourth game of the following season against the Howard University Bison.
During that post red-shirt debut, Ojo played firing on all cylinders. He played explosively and made great plays on special teams as well as on the defensive side of the ball, securing multiple tackles.
At that point the injury didn’t bother him, he was just became driven to prove to himself as well as the coaching staff that he still had what it took on the field to get the job done when the time came.
“I definitely turned up that season and it was a great way to show everyone that I was back in action.”
Now that Ojo is faced was a near mirroring situation, he claims that he knows exactly how to tackle it, the same way he did last time.
“It’s a great time to master the playbook, review practice film and strengthen myself mentally for the game.”
Another positive that can be taken away from this injury is the fact that there has been discussion about another potential medical red-shirt that could in fact be re-rewarded to Ojo. Another red-shirt will give Ojo to chance to develop under the FAMU Football program for one more year.
“Now it’s a matter of getting my mind focused on the most important things like school, family, and of course football,” Ojo added “It’s an eye opener to let me and everyone else know that you cant take football for granted.”