For the last three seasons, San Jose State linebacker Frank Ginda was the guy who delivered the hits.
On Friday, he absorbed one – a huge one – when his Dodge Dart was T-boned by an oncoming car while stopped at an intersection in downtown San Jose.
Ginda and his girlfriend were off to get frozen yogurt at about 8 p.m. and were waiting to take a right turn from southbound 7th Street onto Margaret Street. At that point a silver van heading in the opposite direction sped through the red light into the intersection, struck a car traveling westbound at an estimated 40 mph and sent it into the driver's side of Ginda's car.
The impact drove his face into the windshield, shattering the glass and knocking off the rear-view mirror along the way, and had the junior linebacker wondering if, in a matter of seconds, his NFL dream had been derailed.
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Despite leading the nation with 173 tackles last season, Ginda wasn't invited to the scouting combine last month. That snub placed added importance on his pro day workout, which at the time of the accident was one week away.
When paramedics arrived at the scene, Ginda said, they wanted to clean the blood that was gushing from four different gashes on his face and head. He was far more worried about his left shoulder, which was restrained by his seat belt but which absorbed the bulk of the impact.
"I was like, 'Never mind my face. Just push on my arm.' They were pushing down from all different directions on my arm. It seemed right. 'It's good? OK, now you can clean my face up.'"
Ginda and his girlfriend – she was bruised, but OK – were taken to a nearby hospital where he got 10 stitches on his face. Subsequent X-rays and CT scans showed no damage to his shoulder. Despite last week's drama and feeling as if he's just played in one of the roughest games of his life, he plans to go through the full slate of drills – bench press, sprints, jumping, etc. – Friday at San Jose State.
"I live and breathe football," he said. "I'll never let anything take me off that field. And I'm going to do the same thing on Friday. I'm going to compete. All this hard work and training I've done – I didn't do it for nothing. I'm going to show up on Friday and I'm going to do everything."
Ginda said he's been looking forward to the event since the Spartans' season ended. Some NFL teams think he'll only measure 5-foot-11, too short for an inside linebacker. Draft publications estimate he'll run a slow 40 time in the mid-4.8-second range.
He's eager to prove his doubters wrong.
"That's the biggest question I have – where do they get these numbers?" Ginda, who is listed at 6-1, said. "Last year I ran a 4.69 at our little 'sophomore pro day' so I don't know where they got that. We'll see on Friday."
Even before this week, toughness and tenacity were Ginda's signature characteristics. The Los Banos native led San Jose State in tackles the last two seasons and his 2017 total was the most in Mountain West Conference history.
His quick turnaround from last week's collision only adds to that reputation.
Ginda said the impact totaled his car, sending the motor into the side of the engine compartment, breaking off both front wheels and shoving the 3,100-pound vehicle 5 feet onto a curb and pinning it against a pole.
He had to kick open the crumpled driver's side door to get out. A day later, he was doing pushups and on Tuesday he was back in the weight room putting up 26 bench-press repetitions of 225 pounds. He figures he can squeeze out 30 in front of the 49ers, Raiders and other NFL scouts on Friday.
As far as the crash, the silver or gray Ford van that caused it rolled to a stop farther down the road at which point the driver ran from the vehicle, according to authorities. San Jose police consider it a felony hit-and-run matter and are looking for the driver.