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Can Dominick Blaylock return to the field this fall? How soon?

Dominick Blaylock: A history lesson and a prediction regarding his ACL recovery

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry tells a recovery story and offers up a prediction or two on the progress of Georgia sophomore Dominick Blaylock regarding the ACL injury he suffered against LSU in the SEC Championship game. 

Dominick Blaylock is just one of those athletic marvels. The popular term for that not-like-the-rest-of-us DNA and athletically blessed folk would be a “freak” in today’s athletic culture.

When Blaylock was a high school prospect, it was said by a few who would know he could have been a first or second-round pick by Major League Baseball in the First-Year Player Draft. That’s baseball.

There is also golf. Let’s say he spent 12 months in Latin American on a mission trip. When he got back stateside, his vast hand-eye coordination would allow him to be able to shoot in the low 80s the first time he touched his clubs.

Those elements come to mind today when pondering whether or not the former Walton High School Raider might be ready for a 2020 season. He did suffer an ACL tear last December inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

So does one other very specific story.

The history lesson there regards Blaylock’s recovery from an injury he suffered in the spring of 2017. It was his last time on a competitive baseball diamond. The 5-star WR prospect was sliding into second and fractured his fibula. It would require the shifting of his talus and his deltoid ligament was also repaired with that surgery.

That procedure was performed by an ankle specialist in Charlotte who handled the same injury for Danny Amendola, Julio Jones and Steve Smith, among others. The surgeon who did that repair advised it would be an 8-to-12-month recovery for normal adults.

But Blaylock had a 5-star healing factor, too.

“He did it in baseball season and was back for really the start of football season which was really incredible,” Walton High coach Daniel Brunner said. “We didn’t know the timeline. We were just trying to get him back for region play.”

Blaylock missed the Corky Kell Classic game against North Gwinnett on August 19 of that season. But he was “up” for the next game six days later.

“He just kept improving vastly,” Brunner said. “Faster than anybody ever expected him to. He was back and ready to go Game 1. We honestly could have even played him in Game 1.”

Blaylock was able to catch a touchdown and come up with the game-winning play late in a contested 42-35 win. Blaylock made a very impressive 2018 senior in Brookwood’s Matthew Hill miss on that play.

Hill went on to sign with Auburn. Chalk that up to things the Blaylocks of this world can do. He also tallied up more than 100 receiving yards in that game.

“He basically was the difference in winning the ballgame,” Brunner said. “You can take it to a single play on fourth down. We put the ball in his hands on a little flare deal and he was in wide-open space with one of the best players in the state of Georgia who was a senior that year. It was a one-on-one tackle and Dominick made him miss.”

Blaylock added to his Walton High time capsule that night.

“There’s a lot of things I can say about Dominick with all of that, man,” Brunner said. “To put him on a stage like that and for him to basically say ‘I’m back and I’m better than ever’ with that game he had. That’s when I realized that the kid is a bit of a freak. Basically. He’s a freak.”

The team might have seen him stepping a little gingerly in the locker room after that game, but he was a game-changer on the field.

“Man, this is beautiful dude,” Brunner said while watching the replay of that fourth-down conversion. “He makes the play. Gets up. Pops up and runs off the field. You can’t even tell that this was a guy in his first game back six months from a major injury.”

Dominick Blaylock-Georgia football-UGA football
Can Dominick Blaylock bounce back from that ACL tear and be just as good as he was before? Well, he already has a track record of that with an injury. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. 

Dominick Blaylock: A prediction on a potential 2020 return

Brunner actually texted Blaylock’s parents after the injury happened in the LSU game. When he saw it, he knew that it was a knee injury. It is believed that Blaylock only suffered an ACL tear that night.

“I texted them that night and told them he was going to be fine,” Brunner said. “Especially with ACLs these days. With what they do with ACLs these days, guys come back from them now like they are basically nothing.”

Will there be a 2020 football season? That’s a debatable topic at this point.

Will Blaylock be ready to play if there is a 2020 football season? Brunner speaks with confidence he will be ready to go.

“Knowing how he recovers and based on what he did with that ankle I don’t think anybody could come back that quick and do what he did with that ankle,” Brunner said. “To know what guys have done with quick ACL recoveries and to know what kind of human being that Dominick is and the work ethic that he has, I think will be back better than ever. When that happened, I tried to communicate just that to his folks even though it was scary when it first happened.”

He recalls the decision on his return was basically put in the trainer’s hands. That will mirror what will happen with Blaylock and Ron Courson at Georgia.

The surgeon who performed the procedure on Blaylock’s ankle in high school actually released him to compete earlier than the training staff did at Walton High.

“The doctors had to say ‘No, guys he is good to go’ with all of that,” Brunner said. “They said, “I know that this is unusual, but this kid is unusual’ when it came to that.”

A progression was sought. There was a worry about a negative response to getting back on the field. Could he perform? If that went well, how would his body react to that?

“I’ll be honest I had no idea until he was on the field in that Brookwood game what he was capable of doing,” Brunner said. “I knew he was going to be better than anybody else on the field but I didn’t know if he was going to be himself and that’s what he was.”

“Dominick at 85 percent is better than most anyone else at 100 percent. He might have had pain, but you wouldn’t have known it. He wasn’t telling anybody. He just went out there and played like he always did.”

Georgia keeps a baseline of testing for all of its players. The standard will be if Blaylock can return to his pre-injury metrics for a lot of his speed and agility work. Blaylock has always been as strong as an ox.

He’s likely the strongest pound-for-pound receiver on the Georgia roster. Even though his frame and all the jitterbug in his game doesn’t exactly lend itself to powerlifting.

Dominick Blaylock-Georgia football-UGA football
Dominick Blaylock’s high school coach feels that the sophomore wideout will be back and ready to return this fall. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

One more prediction on if Blaylock will be ready

There are scant pockets of information out there one can find to add to the puzzle here. There have been reports of an Instagram video clip that somehow made it out of Blaylock training with a friend who plays baseball at Clemson. He looked quite sporty in doing so.

There is also just what you hear from those close to that situation. Brunner’s confidence certainly speaks to that, too.

“If he gets an opportunity to play, he is going to kill it,” Brunner said. “That’s just who he is. If he is out on that field, he is going to make plays, man. He’ll be on the field. To me, there is really no doubt.”

Brunner was 100 percent confident in Blaylock’s ability to return and make plays this fall. He will even bet a set of gassers on it.

“I’ll run those gassers myself if he is not back playing at Dominick Blaylock’s level of play this year,” he said.

Based on what I know and have heard today, I’d be surprised if Blaylock is not in the lineup for meaningful games sometime in September.

Will there be games to play by that point? That’s much harder to say.

There’s not as much data and history on that front to construct an accurate hypothesis on that topic.

Dominick Blaylock-Georgia football-UGA football
When will Dominick Blaylock be back to the form that fueled the win against Auburn? His high school coach shared a history lesson with DawgNation. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. 

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