football Edit

Gilreath hopes to continue returning punts

MADISON - When David Gilreath came to following a brutal hit during the San Jose State game a couple of weeks ago, the senior thought he was going to be able to get up.
It was almost like he had just woken up from a nap.
But Gilreath was the furthest place from taking a nap. If nothing else gave it away, the fact that his mother was above him did.
"My mom was over me," Gilreath said following Tuesday's practice. "That was the worst part. I don't remember the hit or anything like that. I don't remember running up for the punt or anything like that. People ask me why I didn't fair catch it.
"I'm like, 'I don't remember man.' I don't know why."
Gilreath suffered a concussion while trying to field the punt against the Spartans. A short kick, one Gilreath needed to run up on, put him in a vulnerable position. While approaching the ball, several SJSU players were approaching him.
With no time to signal for a fair catch Gilreath just caught the ball and tried to make a move. Instead, he was hit low and as he started to the ground a second defender's knee hit the back of his helmet.
It was obvious the senior wide receiver was out cold as his body went limp. Eventually, after a lengthy delay he was carried off the Camp Randall turf inside an ambulance.
"It bothered me a lot," Gilreath said. "I think that's the only way I'm getting off the field anyway. If I can walk, or if I'm all good I'll get up and go. At the same time, I guess that's the only way they'll get me on the field.
"You need to knock me out and stuff like that."
Gilreath missed the remainder of that game against the Spartans-one the Badgers went on to win 27-14-as well as last week's 70-3 drubbing over Austin Peay. Now, with conference play set to begin, the senior has been cleared for contact and will return to the field.
Are there any nerves?
"Not at all," Gilreath said. "I'm ready to go. I've been playing football since I was seven in pads. I was bound to get knocked out one of these days. As many hits as I've been taking I was bound to get knocked out one time."
Though he's set to return, there were a few rough days for the Minnesota native following the injury. A video game nut, Gilreath wasn't able to engage in many of his favorite hobbies in the days after the concussion.
He couldn't really do anything that stimulated his mind. Playing video games, watching movies or TV, playing on his computer and diddling with his phone weren't easy to do with the nagging headache that lingered through that Sunday and Monday.
"I looked at a wall for a couple of days," Gilreath said. "I mean, I watched some TV. That was about it. Video games are my biggest hobby, but I couldn't watch TV for a long time. I wouldn't watch movies. I would check out Sportscenter and try to find something to do."
Aside from not being able to play video games, Gilreath was especially troubled by being sidelined. Really, since he's been in the UW program, Gilreath has seen regular playing time. So missing a couple of games didn't sit well with him.
"That was the toughest part going out there and watching the guys," Gilreath said. "Especially in the Arizona State game. When it's a close game you want to be out there and be a spark to make a play to get the crowd going or something.
"That was the toughest part watching."
That wait is soon to be over, though. The question remaining is will the coaching staff throw him back into the same role as punt returner?
"I hope so," Gilreath said. "I was fielding punts out there today (Tuesday) and was feeling fine. If they want to keep it cautious and maybe give some other guys a try out there that's fine with me. Hopefully I'll be out there."
And hopefully the same event can be avoided, even though Gilreath has a good sense of humor about it.
"The first thing I said was 'Why didn't the guys block for me?,'" Gilreath joked. "Maybe that wouldn't have happened. I'm like, 'Alright, I could have fair caught it.'
"But somebody could have blocked for me."