Illini WR Lankford on injury: ‘I knew it was pretty bad’

SHARE Illini WR Lankford on injury: ‘I knew it was pretty bad’

We’ve shared with you the story of how Illinois wide receiver Ryan Lankford leaned on his parents after the hit that ended the 21-year-old senior’s college career.

Before Lankford went in for surgery Wednesday on his injured left shoulder, he and dad Paul Lankford — a former longtime NFL cornerback who played in two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins — spoke with the Sun-Times about a range of topics.

On the immediate aftermath of the hit by Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun: “I knew it was pretty bad,” Lankford said. “I had kind of injured my shoulder a little bit in [training] camp; it was already weaker than my right one. I had the same exact injury, just not as severe. [On Saturday] my arm went numb. I put my hands on the ground and tried to push myself up and I couldn’t.”

On the role he hopes to play the rest of the season: “The biggest thing I can do is put my knowledge in anyone else, especially in the receivers and the young receivers. Build their confidence up. Be a motivator, be a coach out there. Check the game plan for the week and be up to date as if I’m playing. Just come at it from a different perspective.”

On if he’d like to coach someday: “Yeah, for sure. I’d love to coach. I love the game. I love being around guys who love to work and love the game.”

On if his size (6-0, 175) will be an obstacle as he attempts to play in the NFL: “I think ‘obstacle’ is not the word I would use. I think I accept the fact that I’m a lean, skinny ‘track type’ of guy. I try to embrace the things that, typically, those type of guys don’t do, like blocking or just being physical. … Inside this little track body is a tough guy who enjoys every part of the game.”

Paul Lankford on his son’s injury: “There’s no good time for an injury, but he could’ve had a worse injury. It’s not a knee; it doesn’t hurt his speed. It’s not a neck, head or back injury. You have to try to stay positive about it.”

Paul Lankford on his son’s NFL goal: “I think he can achieve his goals. He has wanted to play in the NFL for as long as I can remember. This [injury] will make him stronger. Sometimes you appreciate things a little more when you have to work harder. … My first two years with the Miami Dolphins, I was dressed [in uniform] and still trying to weigh in at 175 pounds. I don’t think his size will stop him.”

The Latest
Just over 3% of voters in the Chicago municipal elections on Feb. 28 were 18 to 24 years old. About 16% of registered voters in that age group voted.
The transportation agency wants to make bicycling safer in the city. It proposes 150 miles of new bike lanes, but funding isn’t in place; new mayor may take a different path.
Nicholas Samudio, 22, was charged with one count of first-degree murder in a shooting Feb. 16 on the Stevenson Expressway, state police said.
Four community leaders vie for City Council seats left open by the departures of longtime alderpersons Sawyer and Brookins.
As we view the terrifying videos of the shooting that killed three children and three adults in Nashville, we have to ask: What will be added to the arsenal on the streets that’s even worse?