Blaize Foltz was running down the field when he felt his knee pop, not just once but five times. Immediately, it felt like a blowtorch was firing on it.
It was Oct. 5, 2010, during the Horned Frogs' Tuesday practice before they hosted Wyoming when Foltz, an offensive guard, tore a knee ligament, the ACL.
"What in the world just happened?" raced through Foltz's head. "I've been rolled up before by 12 people and been fine."
It made for a solemn fall for Foltz, especially that first month. But thanks to help from TCU trainers he recovered faster, as far as anyone could remember, than any TCU athlete ever has from a similar injury.
He was ready to go by the time spring practice began, and has helped solidify the Frogs' offensive line this season.
TCU (5-2) meets BYU (6-2) at 7 tonight at Cowboys Stadium.
"The first month was the hardest," said his dad, Roger, a longtime high school offensive line coach in Kansas. "We talked every night that first month. We were all pretty shocked by it because he had never been hurt in his life."
The ordeal brought Foltz, a junior, closer to his family and teammates, including brother Brady, an offensive lineman who followed him to TCU this summer.
"Your worst fears are, 'Am I ever going to play again?'" Blaize said. "Our older guys came down and talked to me -- Jake [Kirkpatrick], Jeff [Olson], and Spencer [Thompson] in the training room -- they were really there for me," along with his roommates at the time, Josh Vernon and Marcus Cannon.
"We all got closer to our faith," he said. "It brought us back to reality. It made us stronger and that helped me out during the recovering process."
Foltz needed faith when he was looking for a place to play out of Rose Hill High School, about 20 miles southeast of Wichita, Kan. It wasn't exactly a hotbed for recruiting.
"Kansas just has not been a place coaches stop in," said his dad, who played offensive line at Wake Forest in the 1980s. "Especially for offensive linemen, which weren't really sought after in the state of Kansas."
Blaize credits his dad for sending highlight tapes to schools around the country. Dad credits TCU coach Gary Patterson for telling former graduate assistant Brandon Lechtenberg to "get on the Internet and look out there in the Midwest and see if you can find somebody."
Soon, special teams coach Dan Sharp and then offensive line coach Eddie Williamson were dispatched to Kansas to watch Foltz. Patterson would not allow either of them to be interviewed for this story.
Foltz, who also played basketball and baseball, became the first Rose Hill graduate to earn an athletic scholarship straight out of high school. The brothers are part of just a handful of scholarship athletes on the TCU roster from outside of Texas. The Frogs have 22 players from outside Texas, but most are walk-ons.
"They watched him on the basketball court at 290 pounds, running around doing stuff and watched him in the weight room," Roger Foltz said. "I think that really helped, because they had never seen the kid in a game or anything."
Blaize Foltz is now 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds and is the strongest player on the team. He set a team record with a 580-pound lift. Even more amazing to strength coach Don Sommer was Foltz's 650-pound squats earlier this year.
"We didn't even have a weight room in my high school," said Roger Foltz, who helped Blaize start early on weights. "All those numbers are pretty impressive. I know the coaches call him the freak down there. I think that's a credit to coach Sommer."
Having Brady, 18, join him on the team "was a dream come true," Blaize said. "He's a lot smarter than I am. He was always down here for games and hanging out with everybody."
Brady, who is redshirting this season, dreams of playing alongside his brother next season, just as they did at Rose Hill for one year.
"Blaize has always looked out for his little brother and Brady has always looked up to him," Roger Foltz said. "Now that they're together down there they're really tight, no doubt about it."
The injury helped focus Blaize, Roger Foltz said.
"His body is in the best shape of his life, which is showing up on the field," he said. "He was pacing the sidelines the day after his surgery against Wyoming on his crutches, helping out with the younger players. I think that helped him, too, maturity-wise."