Heading into tonight’s home tilt against Armuchee, Darlington (Rome, GA) sits at 7-0 and is ranked no. 5 in the state in Class AA. The Tigers have played well despite being without the services of one of its top players in offensive lineman Patrick Kearns, a Virginia Tech commitment.
Kearns, a 6’5”, 270-pound senior, is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot. The injury was discovered this summer and required surgery. While in all likelihood the future Hokie will miss his entire senior season, the injury “won’t affect my future,” Kearns said.
“My doctor said my foot will get back to full strength, if not stronger to begin with. I’m going to err on the side of caution when it comes to playing. If they say I’m good to go and I can’t hurt it I probably would play, but I’m not going to rush anything. I would love to play, though.”
Kearns verbally committed to the Hokies while in Blacksburg for a recruiting event on July 25. The Tech coaches knew about the injury at the time.
“It wasn’t one incident. It was more of a slow build up,” Kearns said, further discussing the injury. “We thought it was tendinitis. All signs pointed to tendinitis. It got so bad that I had trouble pushing off. I got an X-ray and it showed I had a broken foot. I had surgery and the doctor put a screw in there just to stabilize it.”
The Tech coaches “said to make sure it’s healed. Don’t come back until I’m 110-percent ready,” Kearns said.
While he has not been able to play, Kearns has been a help to the Darlington coaches.
“I’m there every practice. I love being out there even though I can’t play,” Kearns said. “The guy playing in my place is a sophomore. He’s a good player. I’ve enjoyed teaching him a few things I’ve learned. I can’t play and that’s terrible, but I’m making the most of it.”
In addition to doing a little bit of coaching, Kearns says he is “working out my upper body like crazy. I can’t do any weight bearing things with my foot, but I figured I might as well get as big as I can on the upper body.”
Darlington head coach Tommy Atha described Kearns’ junior season performance as “dominant.” Kearns followed up with an impressive outing in the Georgia...
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