Shawne Alston said a thigh injury that sidelined him for six weeks was “way worse than anybody thought” and required to surgical procedures. (Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography)
While sitting out six games with a deep-tissue thigh bruise, Shawne Alston learned that his reputation as a power back was no match for the power of innuendo.
Listed as day-to-day by coach Dana Holgorsen for the past month, Alston finally returned to action against TCU. During that extended absence, some fans — unable to fathom how a mere bruise could sideline West Virginia’s 230-pound running back — speculated that Alston’s trouble’s ran deeper.
“I heard all kinds of stuff, and some of it was pretty funny,” Alston said Tuesday night after practice. “I heard it was disciplinary. I heard I had vaginitis. I heard I wasn’t tough. I heard I shouldn’t even be on the team anymore.
“I laughed. I even posted some of the stuff on Twitter. I’ve got a good sense of humor — it doesn’t mean nothing to me.”
What means plenty to Alston is helping snap West Virginia out of its midseason funk. Reeling from three consecutive losses, the Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma State this week still trying to become bowl-eligible. Though Alston returned to the rotation against TCU, he barely resembled the tackle-busting runner who opened the season with 123 yards against Marshall.
“I heard it was disciplinary. I heard I had vaginitis. I heard I wasn’t tough. I heard I shouldn’t even be on the team anymore.”
— Shawne Alston
“I’m probably about 70 percent or 65 percent of what I was the Marshall week,” he said.
For those who doubted Alston’s toughness, he played nearly the entire James Madison game after sustaining the injury.
“It was the first quarter — the score was still 0-0 when it happened,” he recalled. “I caught a shot there and it just got worse and worse as the game went on. I wasn’t able to move my leg or get any knee drive.”
Alston dressed for the ensuing week’s game against Maryland, but did not get a carry — appearing late in the half only when WVU was in kneel-down formation. He didn’t play against Baylor and didn’t accompany the team to the Texas game, but was in Lubbock the following week only to watch from the sideline in shorts. He also missed the Kansas State game, unable to get flexibility in the leg.
“It was just something way worse than everybody thought it was,” Alston said. “It’s like a buildup of pressure in your leg. I had pain walking around, and I couldn’t really get up stairs. I had to turn sideways and use railings to help me get up.”
“I couldn’t really get up stairs. I had to turn sideways and use railings to help me get up.” — Shawne Alston
Twice Alston had to go under anesthesia so doctors could surgically drain blood from the injured area. After a CAT scan revealed calcification around the bruise, the team flew in a specialist. “They flew up somebody from Atlanta with some type of machine to do some type of work,” said Alston, playfully shrugging off his lack of knowledge regarding that treatment procedure. “It worked, though.”
After using the bye-week practices to convince coaches he was healthy enough to play again, Alston ran seven times for 16 yards in the 39-38 loss to TCU. Though he converted a fourth-and-short run over left tackle for a touchdown, Alston seemed to favor the right leg, which he admitted “isn’t as strong as my left leg right now” — a disparity he attributes to being unable to lift weights during the down time.
Even as he tries to strengthen the quad muscle, Alston said he retains his unofficial title as the “baddest man in the locker room,” and he aims to play a role in WVU’s late-season turnaround.
“You’ve got to have some type of dog, some type of fight inside you,” he said. “We can still get back to a pretty good bowl, can still win nine games and finish strong.”
John Warlick, CEO of Tissue Regeneration Technologies in Woodstock, Ga., infoms MetroNews that his company provided the specialized treatment for Alston’s thigh injury. Warlick also joked that “this was a tough decision to treat Shawne, as we are all Clemson fans here and remember last year’s thrashing. Best of luck to Shawne and WVU.”
WVU’s head athletic trainer David Kerns, at the direction of team physicians, said he contacted TRT after Alston’s “signs/symptoms necessitated this treatment.”
For the medically inquisitive, Alston underwent extracorporeal shock wave therapy, with team physician Dr. George Bal administering three treatments — “each about 10-12 minutes in length, in the course of eight days,” Kerns said.
According to Warlick. the application of acoustic energy “has been proven to stimulate healing by attracting stem cells and reducing inflammation and also causes a huge increase in vascularity.”
He said TRT’s technology — the standard of care in Europe for more than a decade — is undergoing an FDA trial at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and should soon be available to all U.S. athletes.
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