Richard Yeargin on recovery from wreck: "It's been a long journey"


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Yeargin says his ordeal has taught him patience
Yeargin says his ordeal has taught him patience

Members of Clemson’s starting lineup had their own individual platforms on the floor of the Superdome during Sugar Bowl media day last week, and key reserves moved about the throng taking videos and poking fun at their more-celebrated teammates.

Over to the side, away from the playing surface and against a wall, chairs were set up for the other members of the team, seldom-used reserves, walk-ons, injured players, and redshirts. The setup wasn’t intentional, but it mimicked real life for many Clemson players. It says that yes, you are a part, but you’re also set apart from the mainstream.

In a chair on the front row, defensive end Richard Yeargin sat, his head lowered as he listened to music on his phone. This was supposed to be his breakout year, but instead of a starring role in the Tigers’ run to the College Football Playoff, he sat to the side, lost in his own thoughts.

Yeargin missed the 2017 season after suffering a neck injury in an automobile accident in early June. The red-shirt junior from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., was listed as a second-team defensive end at the end of spring practice and was looking to build on a successful spring.

He had 15 tackles in 10 games as a freshman in 2015 and 14 tackles, including four tackles for loss, in 12 games during Clemson's 2016 National Championship season. Then came the accident, and his plans were put on hold.

“The car hydroplaned and flipped over twice and I landed on my neck,” Yeargin told TigerNet. “It was scary. I wasn't knocked unconscious or anything, but I was in a lot of pain. I would be lying if I said there weren't questions about whether I would ever play again. It's been a long journey, but I was ready for the ride.”

He hopes to be cleared by spring practice, but after suffering the same type of injury suffered by receiver Mike Williams, he knows it could be later.

“Everything is going good, and the rehab is going well. I have a few more months left before I can be cleared, and hopefully, that happens,” he said. “I don't know when I will be cleared. I hope it will be by the spring, but if not then I am sure I will be ready by the fall.”

What has been the hardest part?

“Just not playing. You have to be mentally in tune, but you aren't physically able to go out there and do anything,” Yeargin said. “That has been the most disappointing part. But I don't think God makes mistakes. He has a plan for what happened to me. I don't look at this as a negative. I keep my head down and mind my own business, and when my time comes to get an opportunity again to play, I will appreciate it more.”

He said he already knows what it will feel like when he can walk into the locker room and put on a helmet and pads.

“Liberated. I will feel like I am free and able to do what I love again,” he said.

But there have also been lessons learned along the way.

“I have learned about patience,” he said. “Sometimes in life we want things on our time, and you have to realize it's not about your time, it's about His time.”


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