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Jenni Carlson: Missing games hurt OSU's Orie Lemon more than his injured knee

BY JENNI CARLSON Modified: July 28, 2010 at 8:28 am •  Published: July 27, 2010

Orie Lemon was in excruciating pain.

The days after the Oklahoma State linebacker tore his knee last season were agonizing.

"I was hurt," he said.

He shook his head.

"I was hurt."

Thing is, Lemon wasn't talking about the pain in his knee but rather about the ache in his heart.

When he found out only four days before the season opener that he'd torn his anterior cruciate ligament, Lemon knew his year was over before it began. His days were going to be filled with rehab but his Saturdays would be void of football.

It was almost more than he could stand.

Now with his knee healed and his perspective changed, Lemon is counting down the days to the beginning of the season. It will be his return to football, to a game that he never realized how much he would miss until it was taken away from him.

It is almost more than he can stand.

"I'm a hundred percent ready," Lemon said, flashing a grin that appeared permanently attached to his face Tuesday morning at Big 12 football media days. "I just can't wait for Sept. 4 to get back out there and prove it."

This year's season opener against Washington State isn't as sexy as last year's against Georgia, but to Lemon, there has never been a bigger game.

Lemon, after all, had never been injured before hurting his knee, and frankly, he wasn't convinced he was injured even after the doctors gave him the season-ending diagnosis.

The Monday before the Georgia game, Lemon got tripped up late in practice. No one hit him. He just fell to the ground.

Expected to be the Cowboys' starter at middle linebacker, Lemon returned to practice and even ran afterward.

Everything seemed fine, but the next morning, Lemon's knee was tight. By lunchtime, doctors had determined he'd torn his ACL.

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