Practice was barely over, and a speedy “tweet” from the all-too-familiar “Preach63” was already out Saturday afternoon.
“Just got outta practice. It was fun to be back in pads, but man I was rusty,” the online-only message read.
It came from Gregory Christine, a popular University of Washington offensive lineman who suffered a broken right fibula late in the first half of the Oct. 10 game against Arizona.
Many thought it was the kind of injury that could do serious damage to – or possibly end – his playing career for the Huskies.
Four months later, the senior from Camarillo, Calif. – nicknamed “The Preacher” by his teammates for his constant chatter – is back, ahead of schedule on his recovery.
And even though he’s nowhere near fully healthy, Christine is doing what he has always tried to do – set a leadership example.
“I’ve got to play,” he said. “Got to go.”
The injury was seen as a horrible bone break, a terrible break in his career last season. Christine was a three-year walk-on who finally earned a scholarship at the outset of 2009 under new coach Steve Sarkisian.
In the fall, he earned a starting spot at left guard – up until the time he fell to the turf of Husky Stadium with a season-ending injury.
“I’d never broken a bone before that, so I’d never experienced any pain like that, nor had I known what to expect,” Christine said. “I definitely wasn’t sure what was going to happen, or how I was going to recover or if I was going to be able to move again the way I can.”
The good news was the break of the bone near his ankle was clean. The bad news was he suffered severe ligament damage.
“I definitely don’t feel what I used to be,” said Christine, who after the injury was often seen at UW practices instructing other offensive linemen while on crutches. “The training staff definitely helped me get back a lot faster than what I thought, and what was previously said to me.”
Christine joined the position group Tuesday, and looked surprisingly fresh and agile in drills.
“I think he’s doing fine. Haven’t heard any complaints,” UW offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto said. “He seems to be moving OK.”
But after Saturday – his third practice this week – Christine, who has shifted back to center and has split time between the top two units, admitted the injured area still aches.
“I most definitely need a good tape job,” Christine said. “That helps me play. I feel good. It’s strong. It’s just painful.
“The ankle tells me I should back off a little bit, but my mind tells me I’ve got to go all out.”
After a collision during a pass play, receiver Jordan Polk (hamstring) crumpled to the ground – and stayed there until team athletic trainers assisted him. Best-case scenario, he’s day-to-day. … Receiver D’Andre Goodwin (hamstring) and safety Justin Glenn (knee) were held out after practicing earlier in the week. … The outlook for running back Brandon Yakaboski (knee), who has not played since 2008, isn’t good. Sarkisian said doctors will examine him a final time, but most likely the sophomore is done for good. “We just don’t want to injure this guy to where he’s 30 and having knee-replacement surgery,” the UW coach said. … Two more walk-ons have joined the team in defensive end Peter Follmer and receiver Din Kuses. Follmer is a shot putter on the UW track team and attended Kentridge High School. … Former Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart was a guest at practice Saturday. … Approximately 350 spectators lined the track in the Dempsey Center to view the two-hour workout.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442