It’s been a long, trying time for Penn State safety Ryan Keiser and those closest to him.
After spending more than three weeks at the Hershey Medical Center after breaking a rib and suffering a small bowel tear, Keiser will get to spend the final two weeks of the Nittany Lion football team’s regular season with his teammates. Penn State coach James Franklin announced Keiser’s release from the hospital on Tuesday.
“Keiser is on his way back to State College,” Franklin said. “I know our players and everybody will be fired up about that. I know his family is excited. It’s great to have him back home with us.”
While it appears the toughest phase of the fifth-year senior’s recovery — he spent the first week in the intensive care unit and required multiple surgeries — is over, he will continue to receive treatment and won’t likely be on the sideline for Saturday’s game at Illinois. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s and heavy rain is in the forecast for the game that will kick off at noon at Memorial Stadium.
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It is unclear if Keiser will travel with the team. Previously, most injured players have not made trips to road games, with senior offensive lineman Miles Dieffenbach being an exception.
However, having Keiser back around the facility is certainly a good thing, his teammates said.
“I’m just excited to have him back,” offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro said. “He’s a great guy and a great leader for us. I’m just happy for him so that he can be around us and hang out and his health is a lot better.”
A former walk-on from Selinsgrove, Keiser earned a scholarship prior to the 2012 season. He was voted one of the team’s seven captains at the onset of this, his final season. Primarily a safety, Keiser also factored in heavily on special teams, where he played on nearly every unit at some point in his career while also handling holding duties on placekicks through the time of his injury.
It is still unclear how Keiser was hurt. Franklin called it a “freak injury.”
A group of Penn State players including Mike Hull, Jesse Della Valle, Dieffenbach and Brad Bars took a trip to see Keiser in the hospital before the team’s game against Indiana two weeks ago. Penn State snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Hoosiers and took pictures in the locker room with both of Keiser’s jerseys and sent the pictures to him.
Williams’ status questionable
Franklin said cornerback Trevor Williams could return this week.
Of course, he also might not be available. The junior defensive back is dealing with an unspecified injury and did not play on Saturday. Franklin doesn’t address injuries if they are not season-ending and only expressed hope that Williams would be ready to return.
“Trevor, we’re hopeful and excited to have him back,” Franklin said. “My answer, I know you’ve got to ask, but my answer every single week is going to be hopeful and excited to have him back. Obviously he’s having a great year, so having him back, although we have the young guys playing well now, we need him.”
True freshman Christian Campbell started for the first time and split reps with fellow true freshman Grant Haley. Both snagged interceptions against Temple.
Haley’s exploits have been well documented due mostly to his multiple roles as the team’s primary kick returner and as a full-time member of the punt coverage team. But Campbell has also starred on punt coverage as the gunner opposite Haley. Campbell has played in the last eight games and his combination of size and speed has made the 6-foot-1, 18-year old a valuable asset immediately.
Campbell, from Alabama, was previously recruited to Vanderbilt. When Franklin left the Commodores to take over the Nittany Lions, he immediately examined the then-committed crop of Bill O’Brien recruits and Penn State’s scholarship limitations and called Campbell when he realized he’d have room for the defensive back.
“He had come to camp and broad-jumped over 10 feet and vertical jumped almost 42 inches and ran a 4.4 (-second 40-yard dash),” Franklin said. “We had known about him for a long time. He went to the Alabama All-Star Game and was one of the top performers. So we knew about him for a while.”
Now, Penn State fans are getting more chances to see Campbell in action.
Lions lose recruit
Defensive tackle recruit Adam McLean has decommitted from Penn State.
A four-star prospect from North Potomac, Md., McLean announced his decision on Twitter. McLean’s decomittment leaves Penn State with 18 players in the 2015 class. Verbal commitments like the one McLean made to James Franklin in April are non-binding until recruits sign National Letters of Intent.