It was the second half of the Georgia game when it happened. The Auburn Cornerback knew something bad was wrong when he tried to put weight on his leg. "When I went down, the first thing I did was grab my knee. When the trainers came out there, I told them not to touch it. I knew it hurt bad."
He also knew from experience what a knee injury could do to a football player's career. He had hurt his knee four years earlier, right before he was to quarterback his high school team in the Florida 5-A State Championship game. And now just two games before the Tigers annual showdown with Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Auburn's top Corner back T Sharvin Bell's junior season was over.
It was Bell that just one year earlier had come into his own in the Iron Bowl. He made a touchdown saving tackle on Mark Ingram and later put a big sack on QB Greg McElroy to end the Tide's desperation drive - insuring the Tiger's great comeback victory 28-27.
T Sharvin had come to Auburn from Osceola, Florida where he was rated the 24th best safety in the nation by Scout.com. A four star recruit, he had chosen Auburn over Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia.
He was redshirted in 2008, played in thirteen games in 2009, eleven games in 2010 (starting three), and started all 10 games in 2011, having become one of the leaders on defense when the injury hit.
When his season ended, he was leading the team with 7 pass break-ups, was tied for fourth in tackles (45), including two tackles-for-loss, with one sack and two interceptions.
Even though T Bell was hurting that night in Athens, he didn't think the injury would end his season. However, test by Dr Andrews the next week revealed he had torn the ACL, the MCL and the posterior oblique ligament in his left knee. T Sharvin was devastated. He had to undergo surgery right away to repair the damage.
After surgery, Bell went to work rehabbing his knee. It takes a long time to come back from that type of injury and he was not ready to participate in spring workouts despite lifting weights and rehabbing 5 hours a day.
The road back from a serious football injury can be very disheartening. In fact many choose to end their careers. Not being able to be with the team coupled with the grueling long months in the weight room, quite often prove too much to handle.
But T Bell has two things in his favor for making it back. One is a winning attitude. Every coach he has had since high school testifies both to his natural leadership instincts and to his great attitude.
Yet probably the biggest thing in T Bell's favor is, he has had team staffer and former player Aairon Savage encouraging and mentoring him through the recovery process.
It was Savage that got Zac Etheridge through his miraculous recovery from a spinal injury in 2009. And Auburn fans can never forget the way Aairon himself came back from several serious injuries (including the same injuries Bell sustained) to be a part of the Tigers 2010 National Championship.
Coach Chizik said at the time of T Bell's injury, that it was a big blow to the team to lose the "level of leadership that he brought to the field." Well, after eight months, T Bell is on the verge of resuming that emotional leadership role.
That's just what new Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder will need on his unit this coming season. And when the Tigers tee it up against Clemson in the Dome September 1st, T Sharvin Bell will be there ...
Bringing a level of leadership to the Auburn 'D'.