Whigham gets another shot at Florida State after life-threatening injury in Tallahassee last season

first_img Published on October 10, 2014 at 1:12 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ Julian Whigham has been preparing for this moment for 11 months. The last time the Syracuse cornerback took the field against Florida State, he left it on a stretcher with his own blood staining the Seminoles’ end zone. A game of football in front of family and friends near his West Palm Beach, Florida home had turned into a life or death situation.“That injury, that down time and all that thinking, you find a lot of things to go after,” Whigham said. “Over the spring and during the summer, it was like, ‘Why can’t I be the best?’… Being cut short last year was difficult. It hurt, because I love those platforms.”On Saturday at noon, a fully healthy Whigham will get a chance to take on No. 1 Florida State (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) almost a year after suffering a season-ending injury on the Seminoles’ field.Late in the first quarter of what would end up being a 59-3 Syracuse loss at FSU on Nov. 16 last season, Whigham hit the ground after Florida State’s Rashad Greene caught a touchdown pass. At first, Whigham had thought the wind had just been knocked out of him. Then he got a choking feeling in his throat and he started vomiting blood. Acid came up as well and he couldn’t breathe. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the ambulance ride, he cried and feared for his life. Around him, paramedics were working on him, looking at him, telling him he’d be all right. Old scar tissue had ripped in his esophagus where he had surgery to deal with a rare disorder called Achalasia, which makes it hard for food to move to the stomach. Once Whigham got to the hospital, he was stabilized. He wanted to make it back in time for SU’s bowl game on Dec. 27, but that was unrealistic. Instead, he built up his strength, recovered and prepared. He entered the 2014 season boasting that he wanted to be the best in the ACC. And while he admits that goal hasn’t been achieved, he believes it’s still attainable.“Not being able to play last year was that big motivation for being one of the best in the ACC this year,” Whigham said. “I love top competition, like Florida State or Clemson, and I want to play as well as I can for these types of games.”Whigham’s issues with his esophagus started after his sophomore year at Dwyer (Florida) High School. He went from a player Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels said could have been an All-American safety to one that had trouble keeping his weight above 150 pounds.His surgery forced him to lay off solid foods. While his friends went out for wings after practice, he’d be on a smoothie and ice cream diet. In his junior season, he had lost 20 pounds, was frail and couldn’t practice with the energy he’d once had, Daniels said.“I don’t think he wanted anyone to know what was going on with him,” Daniels said. “I had to find out from (his mother) exactly what was going on. Julian wasn’t forthcoming with any of it, he didn’t make excuses or anything. He went out and played.”His senior season was a better one. He gained back his strength and his abilities followed suit. And in order to play this current season, he had to go through a similar process. During spring practices, SU defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said Whigham wasn’t hitting as hard. It was a process to get back that took longer than Whigham wanted, but one he was determined to make fully.“His diligence to work hard and get through an injury is admirable,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said.It was against Florida State last year where a season went off the rails and a once-closed wound was reopened.This week Whigham posted the Florida State grade sheet on his board and looks at it every time he gets up in the morning — it’s motivating him to want to do more. He’s no longer recovering. He’s preparing.“I need to get better, I need to get better, work on technique, work on something,” Whigham said. “It’s really pushed me to get to where I’m at and then pushed me to keep getting better.“I expect to play the whole game.” Commentslast_img

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