Grubb's injury not as severe as first thought

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An MRI revealed only partial damage to an ACL.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 HILLSVILLE –– The sparkly new digital play clocks on either end of Tommy Thompson Field were generously donated by Keith Grubb and installed just in time for Carroll County’s benefit game against Galax on Aug. 20.

For a couple of days, it looked as if a single 25-second cycle of the clocks would be longer in duration than the senior football season of Grubb’s son Hunter.

The new timepieces may save the Cavaliers a few 5-yard delay of game penalties. Another piece of technology may have saved the season for the younger Grubb.

A few plays into the Cavaliers’ preseason finale with Galax, Grubb landed awkwardly while trying to avoid a player on the ground, and he felt something give in his knee. The on-site diagnosis of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was confirmed within 30 seconds of an examination performed the following Tuesday by Dr. James Lebolt, the orthopedic surgeon for both Virginia Tech and Radford University.

For all intents and purposes, the season was over for Grubb, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior drawing serious interest from numerous Division I programs, including several ACC schools. Surgery and a six-month rehab period were ahead.

Lebolt ordered an MRI, which would serve more as a blueprint for the necessary surgical procedure than as any diagnostic tool.

That is where the story took a turn towards warm-fuzzy territory.

“We got a phone call on the way home, and they wanted us to come back Thursday,” said Keith Grubb.

The return visit was a good news-bad news kind of day.

The MRI revealed only partial damage to the ACL. A grade-3 sprain. A deeper look into the results produced the bad news – a cyst in the bone near Hunter’s injury.

“One minute we were looking at a torn ACL, and the next minute we were maybe looking at cancer,” Keith said.

The cyst turned out to be benign, and the doctor ordered a couple of weeks of physical therapy.

“We dodged a pair of bullets,” Keith said.

A self-described Unashamed Christian, Keith Grubb is convinced the two medical conditions were related. When a 270-pounder injures a knee, the joint usually goes out in grand fashion. Partial tears are very uncommon in guys Hunter’s size. And without the MRI, the cyst would have gone undetected. As it stands, Hunter will undergo a yearly check-up on the bone anomaly.

Once cleared from physical therapy, maybe as soon as late this month, Hunter can resume his senior season and possibly reap the rewards of being a highly intelligent, light-footed 270-pound kid in great physical shape. No matter what happens on the field and with his knees, the ‘highly intelligent’ part of the equation will still be in place, and Hunter Grubb will make a solid student somewhere after his senior season, a season that will hopefully include many glances past opposing defenses and into the amber numbers on those new play clocks.

“We feel very fortunate,” Keith Grubb said. “And very blessed.”