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Smith and his fellow offensive linemen happily welcome knee braces for Tigers


Ozark has joined the ever-growing group of schools offering knee braces for its offensive linemen, and the Tigers are glad for it.

“Everyone is wearing them and liking them,” senior lineman Logan Smith said after he and his cohorts received braces earlier this month, just in time for summer workouts.

The linemen are making natural adjustments to moving forward, backward and laterally with braces strapped to their knees.

“They feel good. But they're new and something to get used to,” Smith said. 

“I've got to break into them,” lineman Jayden Washington said. “I had never worn braces before. It's taken us a minute to get used to them. It's something we will get used to. They definitely give me more confidence in my stance. 

"A lot of the problems we had in the past had to do with injuries," he added. "Anything to help prevent injuries is something we should take advantage of. I also like them because I think I look a little more threatening with them on."

Braces are becoming much more commonplace for offensive linemen at all levels due to the protection and stability they provide. Studies have shown braces significantly reduce the risk of injury.

However cumbersome the braces might be, Smith is all for wearing them.

“They do slow you down a little bit. That is to be expected. That's normal," Smith said. “But it's worth it. We're not out here running 20 yards, anyway. We're out here to be stable and planted into the ground.”

Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week Two last year. During a battle in the trenches in Ozark’s home-opener versus Republic, a Republic player fell on Smith’s right knee.

Considering the weight of the opposing player and the impact of his fall on Smith’s knee, Smith believes even with a brace, he would have been injured. 

“I think it would have helped some, but I don't think it would have fully prevented it,” he said. “I got fully landed on. His whole body weight landed on (the knee).”

Smith began to wear a brace during his ensuing rehab.

“After my injury, I had to wear one for all our (weights sessions),” he said. “I was able to get back in the weight room sooner than if I didn't have (a brace).”

Smith, generally considered the anchor of Ozark’s offensive line, has been happy to have his knee pass all tests during summer workouts.

"I'm 100 percent,” he said. “(Physical therapy) helped a lot. I've gained a lot of strength in both of my legs. My maxes have gone up. I feel great, 100 percent.”