Herzlich fighting back


The best story of BC Pro Day wasn’t wearing shorts and a workout shirt. He wasn’t running the 40 or going through position drills. He wasn’t walking across the street from the Harvard Stadium bubble to interview with teams in the athletic department building where so many other guys were.

Nope. Mark Herzlich was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, and taking it in. Remember, this was supposed to be his day.

In 2008, BC’s Pro Day became an event because of Matt Ryan. Last year, it was B.J. Raji. And after Herzlich decided to return to The Heights for the 2009 season, the Eagles figured to have a third straight high first-round pick.

You guys know what’s happened since. Last spring, Herzlich was discovered to have Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that sidelined him for the entire 2009 season. He promised he’d be back. And by the looks of it, Herlich’s well on his way back.

I know this is a Patriots blog. But as we delve into draft season, with free agency slowing down a bit, and I was at BC’s Pro Day yesterday, I thought it was worth updating where Herzlich stands as so many of his peers ready for their shot at the big-time.

“We finished our winter workouts this week, we start spring ball next week,” Herzlich said. “And basically from the beginning of winter workouts, when I started coming back, and now going full-go with the running and lifting, it’s progressed really well. I think during spring ball I’m gonna do a lot of the non-contact stuff and see how it goes from there.

“I’m cleared to do whatever I can, whatever I want. But it’s kind of up to the coaches now, and I’ll take it kind of easy to make sure — first and foremost — that I’ll be ready by August for (fall) camp.”


I asked Herzlich, as old teammates like Mike McLaughlin and Matt Tennant finished up their on-field work, if it was tough to see what could’ve been. He answered, gracefully, that he was more nervous for his guys out there than anything else.

And he explained that he could do a lot of the things that they were doing now. The only reason to hold back, he said, is his muscles could still be tight from the surgery, which could lead to pulls or tears and seriously set him back.

So he’ll work at that, and also work at his strength and conditioning, which is coming along.

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“It’s not back to where it needs to be yet,” Herzlich said. “I have every confidence that it will get back there, but that’s something that will come back fully over the next six months, as I get ready for the season. Working out for two months, and being where I am right now, is very encouraging.”

As for his desire to be a pro, that hasn’t gone anywhere, and he said confidently that the Pro Day gave him a chance to “see how they’re doing it, because I’ll be out there next year.” The NFL is, still, something he’s very much looking forward to.

“It’s definitely there,” Herzlich said. “But right now, the biggest thing is just getting back out on the field. I can tell people that I’m not going out there to just play again, I’m going out there to be as good as or better than I was in the previous seasons. If that happens, then I think I’ve good shot going back and playing college and then playing in the NFL.”

And even now, as he focuses on getting his body ready to simply practice, he’s glancing at what could be ahead.

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That’s what’s allowed him to enjoy days like yesterday, rather than worry about what could’ve been.

“All the guys I played with that are in the NFL now, (they say) basically just ‘keep working’,” Herzlich said. “But if I get back to where I was, I have a good shot, and medically, we’ll have to look at that when we get there. I’m sure if I can get through this season fine, then I’ll be able to play, it’s just whether the GMs or the coaches have that concern about my leg.

“I think I’m more determined, if anything, to get there. It seemed like it was on track before. And now it’s getting back on track. So the determination’s probably there more than before.”

Good story, sure seems like a good guy, and someone — No matter whether you like BC or not — to root for in the fall.