A freak landing during a 7-on-7 football game two years ago created a chain of events which has led to the development of Grapevine’s starting nose guard.
It was the spring after Robbie Haider’s sophomore season when the then-linebacker was closing in on a running back who had just grabbed a pass in one of the Mustangs’ 7-on-7 games.
Haider jumped up and landed awkwardly on his left leg, with his knee locked straight.
In that moment, the knee buckled in and created a complete tear in Haider’s ACL, MCL and PCL. It also strained the lateral collateral ligament and other meniscus in the knee.
So long, junior season.
After considerable hesitation in deciding on the major reconstruction surgery, the Haider family decided on moving ahead and scheduled the surgery for April 18, just a day after Haider’s birthday.
The secret in getting Haider back on the field was in preparation before the surgery and the determination and discernment about a comeback.
“I did all the pre-therapy and got all my motion back before the surgery,” Haider said. “I played it smart, I feel,” Haider said by doing all the advance work. He also felt he played it smart by not rushing back onto the field for his junior year.
“If I pushed it, I could have come back for the next season,” he said. “But I really didn’t want to do that to myself and be out for my senior year,” Haider said of making the difficult decision to spend last year fully rehabbing the knee and working out to be in the best shape possible.
Haider admitted that year was tough, watching his teammates head out to practice and watching film.
“I felt bad watching them play without me,” Haider said. “What type of contribution can I make? The most I could do was to get into the weight room and get back.”
The senior’s efforts paid off, though.
Before the surgery, the Grapevine linebacker weighed 202. Now, as the Mustangs prepare for rival Colleyville Heritage in Friday’s game, Haider will anchor the defensive front at 6-1, 230.
“I was devoted to my workouts,” Haider said. “I didn’t want to waste my opportunity. My senior year is so important to me. If I didn’t get back to 100 percent, I’d regret it,” he said.
Haider said he downloaded a smartphone app to assist in his workouts and admitted he watched a lot of YouTube videos to figure out his workouts.
Now, once the knee brace is on, Haider said he feels back to normal, with no residual problem with the knee. His biggest concern, though, is his mental preparation for playing a new position.
“I really like it,” he said of playing nose guard. “I never thought of myself as a defensive lineman, but I’m happy to do it.”
Haider credits his position coach, Wayne Jaggars, and defensive coordinator, Charles Wheeler, for teaching him the technique and finer points of the position. “When Coach Jaggars teaches, everything that comes out of his mouth (shows) he knows what he’s talking about.”
This week, leading up to the Heritage game, Haider is expecting an all-out effort on both sides.
“As a senior, it’s going to be a crazy game,” he said. “It’s the biggest game of the year and everybody gets into it. It’s going to be amazing. In my freshman year, I didn’t know the rivalry but knew it was a big thing.”