Aaron Corp, the starting quarterback for Richmond’s recent 3-8 campaign, has been invited to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, an invitation that appeared unlikely when he suffered a season-ending knee injury during the 2010 season.
The injury, which he suffered during a 17-0 loss to the University of New Hampshire on Oct. 9, 2010, required immediate surgery. Chris Jones, director of sports medicine at Richmond, was in charge of Corp’s rehabilitation. He said Corp had torn four different structures in his knee, and the knee only had five main structures.
“The injury was severe enough that it could have been considered a career-ending injury,” Jones said. “Not every athlete could have come back from this injury.”
“I didn’t walk for a month and a half after surgery,” Corp said.
Corp’s rehabbing was an extensive process. It that took about eight months to fully heal, he said.
“There was a point when I was doing rehab four hours a day, seven days a week early on there,” Corp said. “I kind of got sick of our athletic trainer Chris Jones, seeing him all the time, but it paid off.”
Despite the team’s struggles to win, Corp rebounded from his junior-year injury to start all 11 games, posting career highs in passing yards (2,682) and touchdowns (17). Wayne Lineburg, who served as Richmond’s interim head coach for the 2011 season, said the work Corp had put in on his rehab had made all the players on the team respect him even more.
“The challenging thing is when you get news like that as an elite athlete, there’s a tendency to feel sorry for yourself,” Jones said. “His immediate response was, ‘What do I need to do to get back.’ He really had zero time where he had any self pity about the situation.”
John Averett, a family friend of Corp’s who has known the quarterback since he was a young boy, hosted Corp over Thanksgiving break during his rehab and got see how hard Corp was working, he said.
“He was tougher than I thought,” Averett said. “You don’t look at a quarterback as really a hard-nosed, kick-your-butt kind of guy, but that’s what he showed with the way he did his rehab.”
Corp will now look to earn the respect of NFL scouts and personnel at the Combine, which will take place Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis, Ind., at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Combine is a weeklong event that the nation’s top players entering the NFL Draft are invited to. NFL teams send scouts and other personnel to watch as these players take part in drills and tests such as the 40-yard dash. These players are also subjected to interviews and tests on knowledge of the game.
Most of the players invited are from big-time Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences. Corp is one of just two players invited from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The other is Jerron McMillan from University of Maine. In comparison, 62 Southeastern Conference (SEC) players were invited.
“I was really happy when I got the invite, especially coming from a small football school,” Corp said. “It just gives me an opportunity to kind of show what I can do.
“The main thing for me is I want to be able to prove that my knee is 100 percent, and that I’m just as good as other quarterbacks there.”
Corp was originally a FBS player, transferring to Richmond from University of Southern California before his junior season. He decided to come to Richmond partly because transferring to a FCS school retains his eligibility, he said. Typically, a player transferring from one FBS to school to another must sit out a year before he can play.
After Corp transferred, however, USC was penalized by the NCAA for rules violations involving former players. The penalty gave all Trojan players the opportunity to transfer to another FBS school without having to sit out a season. Corp said he had no regrets.
“I was able to enroll in school early and was able to participate in spring practice that semester which I think gave me a head start as far as being able to learn the playbook and getting to know my teammates,” he said.
He plans on training in New Jersey with former teammate Tre Gray, a wide receiver who is also entering the draft, he said. Corp will work with the same quarterback coach that helped current Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Delaware, another CAA school.
“I just want to be drafted,” Corp said. “That’s the goal at this point. Once I get on a team, I’ll prove myself from there.”
He is in Florida training because he just finished playing in the Players All-Star Classic in Little Rock, Ark. The all-star game featured graduating seniors planning on entering the draft. Corp said he had played in the game without a knee brace, the first time he had done that since coming back from his injury.
After the Combine, Corp will train for Richmond’s Pro Day, where he and other Spider draft hopefuls will perform drills similar to those done during the Combine for scouts at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium. The event will be held sometime in March.
Averett and Lineburg both said they believed Corp could play in the NFL given the opportunity.
“He’s not going to come in like Flacco did, but I think with the kind of person he is, unless that knee injury holds him back, he’ll be on a team next year at the quarterback position,” Averett said. “He may be on the sideline for four plus years, but I just have a lot of faith in him.”
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com