UNION MILLS — Pre-season football practice is a grind, a grueling stretch that has players counting down the days to the first game.
You won't hear Brady Glisic complaining about it.
"Finally being able to play, to be with the guys, it's awesome," the South Central junior said. "I knew in my head I was coming back for sure, even if I had to stand on the sidelines. I wanted to be around the sport, around my teammates."
Back in the winter, a major knee injury cast a cloud of doubt over Glisic's future, not just in football, but in basketball and baseball. He had his kneecap pop out of place three times during basketball season, once while simply jogging onto the court, another time during the Porter County Conference tournament, then again, late in a game against LaCrosse. The first two instances, Glisic actually popped the kneecap back into place himself, switching the brace he was wearing on his right knee from a prior medial collateral ligament injury.
"I still don't know 100 percent (how it originated)," he said. "Being a three-sport athlete, it may have happened over time, the wear and tear. Once, during baseball freshman year, I collided with someone and felt a pop in my knee, but I was fine. The first (football) practice back with (the right) knee injury, I was goofing around after practice, I threw a ball and it popped when I landed. I still got up after that."
While Glisic didn't think much of it the first two times, he finally decided the pain of putting his kneecap back in place himself was enough to go get it checked out. In addition to the 50 percent dislocation, he found out that the kneecap was cracked and he had torn his medial patellofemoral ligament, which attaches the kneecap to the inner part of the knee. Glisic was also told that the area on which his knee cap sits was almost flat and had to be reconfigured. In February, Glisic underwent reconstructive knee surgery by Dr. Anthony Levenda at Lakeshore Bone and Joint. The same night, he went to see the Satellites in their basketball sectional opener.
"That was a big question in the winter time," S.C. football coach Buzz Schoff said.
Off the leg for over two months, Glisic was given a time frame of six to nine months, with the fact that he was young and athletic working in his favor.
"Everything ended up going well," he said, declaring himself as good as new. "I worked my way back slowly with everything. I did my rehab. I was running on the treadmill two miles by the end of physical therapy. I don't really have any discomfort. I lifted weights. My muscles are still weak, so I'm still sore after practices, but I feel great. I'm slowly getting into condition to be able to play four quarters."
Basketball activities this summer were limited, though Glisic was in the gym regularly, hoisting jump shots. A big hurdle was getting back into action on the football field.
"At the beginning, it was rough," he said. "My mom, especially, was worried about football being the sport it is. I was worried about cutting because that's how the injury started. Now I'm 100 percent healthy."
It was a load off Schoff's mind, knowing Glisic was the guy expected to step in at quarterback with the graduation of Kyle Schmack.
"We're hoping he can gain about 100 pounds and we'll put No. 15 on his back," Schoff joked. "He's been a quarterback his whole life. Until he got hurt, he was taking the No. 2 snaps. The past two years, we just had a big, strong guy who could throw a ball 100 yards. It's nothing new to (Glisic). We didn't take a kid and make him play quarterback. He's got his strengths. They're not the same as the strengths we've had in years past, but he can play the position. He's always been waiting for this opportunity. He's got to be the general now."
Schoff likes what he's seen so far from a leadership aspect and Glisic's commitment to the weight room in his recovery.
"He really stepped up," Schoff said. "He's bigger, stronger. He's coachable. As far as football smarts, he's got it. The difference is he's a football player. Kyle was a baseball player playing football. You can see that when we tell him to make a read. He's a little better at rolling out. Maybe we don't throw the deep ball as often, but he can throw well. We don't have to change the offense. We've got to chuck the ball in the air because we have a lot of kids who can go get it."
South Central's scheme calls for the quarterback to run the ball, so there will be Fridays when Glisic will be tucking it away 20 times a game, based on what defenses choose to take away.
"I'm working a lot on my reads, trying to slow it down, pulling the ball," he said. "I can scramble around the pocket. Hopefully, I won't have to too much with our line. The short pass game, that's my strong suit. I can throw the ball far if I have to."
If there's any bright spot to Glisic's misfortune, it's the changed outlook he developed over the six games he missed last season with the MCL injury.
"Standing and watching, you start to notice the little things," he said. "Whenever you're on the sidelines, you have to slow the game down. You can see the holes open up, when to throw it, when not to throw it, watch the defense move, see what the corners and safeties are doing. I could say, 'What if I was in?' Thinking about the impact I could have and not being able to play, I could feel that in my gut. I definitely need it."
South Central at Knox (scrimmage), 6:30 p.m.