Nixa’s TJ Eckert figures the torn ACL he suffered two years ago that cost him his sophomore season is now allowing him to enjoy his senior season.
Eckert’s injury on the second day of practices in 2021 triggered the widespread use of knee braces along the Eagles’ offensive line.
“That's why a lot of us started wearing knee braces," Eckert said.
He whole-heartedly endorses the virtues of the braces.
“I don't do anything without them,” he said. “They're a huge reassurance. Early this season, I took a hit to the knee and if I hadn't had a brace on that knee, I would have been out for the season. Instead, I was just out for a week or two.”
Over the last few years, it’s become more and more commonplace for offensive linemen to wear braces. They’re well suited for linemen since during the course of a game they can have teammates and opposing players roll over onto their legs without warning.
“The braces stabilize your knees and make sure when people crash into your knees, you don't tear anything,” Jacob Lile said. “It’s kind of hard to walk with them. But during plays in which people run into you, you're thankful to have them.”
“In the back of your mind, it's nice to know they're there and you're not going to get hurt,” Peyton Ewing said.
Tackle Jackson Cantwell wishes the braces weren’t so cumbersome.
They give me security,” Cantwell said. “They protect you when you get hit. Last year, (former teammate) Garrett Davidson loved throwing guys into me, so (the braces) protected me a lot.
“The only reason I don't like them is I like to showcase my speed a little bit,” he added. “I run incredibly slow with knee braces. They restrict a lot of my movement. They don't wear them in the NFL, but they do in college so it's something you've got to get used to.”