Spencer Hagan is no stranger to long odds, and here he goes again.
The hard-luck Cal tight end out of Capital Christian High School is confronted with his greatest athletic challenge. He is dealing with a lost season after suffering a devastating injury that will take months of rehabilitation and prompted Bears coach Jeff Tedford to say, "His knee is shot."
Shot for the time being, yes. Long term? Too early to say.
Unlike the knee surgery of earlier generations when a shredded knee ligament was the kiss of death to playing careers, athletes do recover from "shot" knees. Witness the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. The 49ers got a look at his leg drive Sunday. On the local high school scene this fall, there is linebacker Hank Humphers of Nevada Union. The senior made a full recovery from reconstructive knee surgery with rehabilitation the key.
Hagan went down at Ohio State two weeks ago in a gruesome scene that leaves one to conclude knees just are not made for the rigors of this game.
Scott Hagan was at the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, that day and hustled down through the masses and past security to ease the anxiety of his son lying in a training room. There were X-rays to see if the damage also included broken bones.
"We could hear the roars of the fans during that crazy fourth quarter but had no idea what was happening," Scott Hagan said Monday after confirming the seriousness of the injury. "It's a severe injury. It's very touching for (me) to see the genuine love and affection his teammates and coaches had for him. They know what this game means to him."
Hagan suffered a torn MCL and ACL and a lateral tear of the meniscus in his right knee. The junior will undergo surgery this weekend in Oakland.
Recovery time, at best, is nine months. The outpouring of support came from teammates who understood the work Hagan put into the Bears. Hagan went from walking on out of a Division V high school to playing last season to starting this season at H-back.
Tedford was so impressed with his tight ends that he visited New England coach Bill Belichick over the summer to discuss how the Patriots maximize the position.
Tedford has long raved about Hagan's ability to block, catch and run at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Hagan and Cal hope to count 2012 as a medical redshirt season.
Tight end hopefuls
Hagan's misfortune suddenly becomes an opportunity for Harrison Wilfley and Spencer Briare, Cal tight ends with local ties.
Wilfley excelled at Casa Roble and American River College. He spent the previous two years on a Mormon mission in Uruguay. Briare, a walk-on from Granite Bay, is a Bee All-Metro player who helped the Grizzlies to a championship season last fall.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick of Whitney High has seen time as a true freshman tight end for USC. He continues the tight end link from Sacramento to USC that includes Scott Galbraith of Highlands in the late 1980s.