AUSTIN, TX - Junior tight end Blaine Irby will be sidelined for the 2009 season as a result of the dislocated right knee he sustained on Sept. 20 against Rice last season, UT Head Athletic Trainer for Football Kenny Boyd confirmed on Friday. Irby sustained significant ligament and nerve damage as a result of that injury.
“First and foremost, I want to thank all of my teammates, coaches and family because a big thing this injury has taught me is how much support we have here,” Irby said. “That support has helped in the rehab process and will continue to drive me to get back on the field.
“The injury has taught me a lot of things like patience. It was devastating at first, but I’ve come a long way. I realize this is an obstacle I have to overcome and it’s going to take time. I feel like I’ve made the best of the situation and am working to make sure something positive comes out of this.
“I’m disappointed that I’m going to miss the season, but that’s not going to stop me from having an impact on this team. I’m going to help the coaches in any way I can and work with the tight ends, whether it’s watching film, or just trying to be a resource for them. I’m really going to work with the young guys to try and get them ready to help the team.”
Irby, who started the first three games of 2008 before the injury, has been working hard at rehabilitation for the last several months and undergone two surgeries.
“It’s always unfortunate anytime a young man sustains such a devastating injury but in Blaine’s case it was a real blow to our offense and team,” Brown said. “He is such a tremendous leader, player and person. We have a great history of tight ends and Blaine was quickly developing into the type of player to follow in those footsteps.
“Since the injury, I’ve never seen a young man work harder and keep a better attitude. He’s fighting every day to continue to come back and overcome this adversity. He is such a positive role model for our team and especially the young guys. I’ve asked him to help coach the tight ends this fall because his passion, leadership and knowledge of the game is so valuable to our program.”
The 6-3, 235-pound Irby started the first three games of 2008 and had 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He led the Horns with seven catches for 62 yards and a TD in their 52-10 season-opening victory over Florida Atlantic. Irby also posted nine knockdown blocks in that game. He had a 23-yard catch at UTEP and registered two catches for 10 yards before sustaining the knee injury against Rice. He played in 11 games and registered two catches for 29 yards as a true freshman in 2007.
“With a knee dislocation like Blaine sustained, damage can occur to ligaments, nerves and arteries,” Texas’ team orthopedic surgeon Carey Windler said. “Blaine sustained significant ligament damage as well as a major nerve injury. The trauma to his knee was dramatic, and he was very fortunate that no arterial injury occurred.
“With all that Blaine has been through, he has maintained an amazing attitude and worked extremely hard in his rehab,” Windler added. “He has recovered exceptionally well from the reconstruction and repair of multiple ligaments, but the variable that is so unpredictable is the recovery from nerve damage. He injured the peroneal nerve and has had a second procedure for that injury. The nerve has not yet recovered, and drop foot is the result. Overall though, Blaine has recovered well, is in a brace for the foot drop, and has progressed to light running. If you saw Blaine walking on campus, he would appear normal to most observers. But that doesn’t translate to being able to compete at this level at this time.”