SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Matt Bockhorst sat on a golf cart on the sideline early Tuesday afternoon and watched his teammates practice on Ballaban Field.
The St. Xavier senior offensive lineman just wished he could join them.
Named an Under Armour All American earlier this spring, Bockhorst, a Clemson verbal commit, tore his anterior cruciate ligament while participating in the prestigious Nike Opening in Oregon earlier this month.
Bockhorst, a Division I first-team all-state offensive lineman as a junior, will have surgery next week and will likely miss this season.
“It was difficult because I was there with him when he heard the news and everything so it was tough,” said St. X senior quarterback Sean Clifford, a close friend of Bockhorst and Under Armour All American who competed at The Opening.
“We always talked about playing our senior seasons together, so it was definitely an emotional time period.”
But, Bockhorst is going to do everything he can to support the Bombers as they prepare for the season opener against St. John Bosco (Calif.) at 5 p.m. Aug. 27 at Nippert Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
As a vocal leader, Bockhorst is pressing forward despite the injury. He knows how much this season means to his teammates. His charisma and leadership won't go away.
“We both got through it,” Clifford said. “Matt is out there coaching our guys all the time. He will be fine.”
Although Bockhorst won’t likely see time with St. X his senior season, he will be ready for his Clemson career.
St. X coach Steve Specht said he doesn’t like the fact that Bockhorst and senior left guard Dominic Altimari tore their ACLs this summer, but the Bombers have to adjust quickly. There are some younger players who will step in, so depth won't be a problem. It just takes time for the younger guys to develop.
“I told them the first day, look, it’s sad and heartbreaking, but it’s not tragic,” Specht said.
Specht, who has been the St. X head coach since 2004, had a conversation with Bockhorst about the injury. There will be good and bad days and that's understandable.
But, Specht has emphasized life perspective.
“I said there is a picture of Matt James in our locker room,” Specht said. “I said that’s tragic. There is a great sadness in me that has never left because of (Matt’s death in 2010). You are going to go on and have a great career at Clemson and you are going to have children, God willing and on and on. I said, ‘this is heartbreaking’ and that was the message I sent to the kids. I said, ‘who is going to take the next spot?' That is the beauty of living. That’s what we do at this level – we teach these kids.”