BROKEN ARROW — Gyasi Akem can easily recall the “freak play” that ended his sophomore season before it even began.
The Broken Arrow linebacker was going in for a tackle in a preseason scrimmage when his leg swung into the air.
Then, the side of his knee hit another player's helmet.
“I got up and I felt a pop,” he said, “but I didn't know what it was until the next day. I didn't really feel any pain, because I had so much adrenaline. But I knew something was wrong because knees aren't supposed to pop like that.”
The result was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that requires surgery and at least six months of rehab.
But Akem not only fully recovered from the blow. He rapidly morphed into one of the state's premier players and an OSU commitment, coming in at No. 5 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruit rankings for 2014.
Broken Arrow coach Steve Spavital called the injury “devastating,” because Akem was slated to start that season. Akem was certainly bummed, too. But he made an effort not just to rehab himself, but to stay engaged with his team.
“A lot of kids will have an injury to the extent that he had, and you never see them,” Spavital said. “They're in the training room. They go home early. (Akem) never did that. He was always around the kids every day. He never missed a day. He's on crutches, but he's there the first day. He's up there at 7 a.m. with all the other kids.
“So that shows a lot about him, and that's what's important. He worked so hard at getting back, and it just made him better at what he does and more respected by the kids and the coaches.”
Super 30: No. 5
School: Broken Arrow
Committed to: Oklahoma State (April 20)