Sony Michel back in action

Coming off an ACL injury, 2014 RB takes field for first time at Jimbo Fisher Camp

Originally Published: June 15, 2012
By Corey Long | ESPN RecruitingNation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage running back Sony Michel had been fairly quiet about when he was expected to return to full workouts. The Class of 2014 running back suffered a torn ACL in September and had been on the shelf since.

During his eight-month rehabilitation, Michel stayed in the public eye, whether it was on the sideline of American Heritage games or supporting the South Florida Express at the Madden Football IMG 7-on-7 regional tournament.

After spending spring practice doing more individual conditioning, Michel decided he was ready for the next step. On Thursday, without fanfare, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound sophomore participated in a full session at the Jimbo Fisher Football Camp.

"It felt amazing," Michel said. "I wasn't necessarily targeting this particular camp, but it was the right time, and I think this was a good place to really see if I was back or not."

Michel did every drill and multiple one-on-one reps during the three-hour block. If he was tentative about his injury, it didn't show on the field.

"He was very smooth," said North Miami running back Romane Charles. "His name was on the list, but I don't think anyone expected him to get after it."

Part of Michel's motivation was the competition. The running backs were the star group Thursday with ESPN 150 prospect Ryan Green (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Pete Catholic) leading the way. Other participants included Miami Central teammates Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cooke, and Miami Christopher Columbus teammates Lorenzo Woodley and Daryl Chestnut.

"I wanted to return to the field in a competitive environment like this because you really don't really don't know if you're back until you compete at this level," Michel said. "I could have waited for a spot that was less challenging, but that's not what I wanted to do. Coach [Eddie] Gran isn't going to take it easy on you."

During the one-on-one reps against the linebackers, Michel didn't shy away from taking on the highest-rated prospects there, even if it was ESPN 150 linebacker Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) or his teammate and FSU commitment Tyrell Lyons.

"Watching Sony do his thing is very exciting because I know he'll be on my team this fall," said American Heritage linebacker Michael Deeb. "Seeing him back on the field is going to be inspiring for our team because we see how hard he works and how much this means to him."

Michel said the time off the field gave him plenty of time to think about everything he had.

"The main thing I learned during my injury is that all of this can go away just like that," Michel said. "All of the notoriety and all of the publicity that I have had since I was in eighth grade could be gone with a single injury."

Michel had a legion of supporters help him get through this, from his teammates, opponents and even former professional players.

"The support I received from the football community in south Florida was overwhelming," Michel said. "Before every game some of the opposing coaches and players would seek me out and give me some encouraging words.

"I had some of the players, the former NFL guys that work with the South Florida Express like Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison, talk with me, and it was all very helpful. But my teammates, my coaches at American Heritage, they were always there. I never had any worries because they were there."

And now Michel hopes to return the favor with another eye-popping season. As an eighth-grader Michel rushed for 1,825 yards and 18 touchdowns and exploded onto the national recruiting scene. During his freshman year, Michel rushed for 1,730 yards and 28 touchdowns while also playing defense and special teams. His efforts have earned him an early invitation to the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game.

Michel said his days on defense might be over, but he's more than willing to play on the other side of the ball for American Heritage if they need him to.

"Our team wasn't together like it should have been last season, and I take part of the blame for that," Michel said. "We should compete for a state championship this year because we're going to work harder to stick together and be unified so we can reach that goal.

"I'm not much of a talker or anything, but I want to lead more by example."

As for the recruiting end of things, Michel will still be able to choose his college and admits it will be a tough decision. Originally Michel was pretty adamant about trying to stay in Florida, but now he says things might change.

"You can't just make a decision like that without really taking everything into consideration," Michel said. "I appreciate everything now, every offer, every letter, every time a coach speaks to me I really appreciate it.

"It's going to be a difficult decision and it's going to be real stressful, but I'm going to do my best to make it fun."

Michel will head to Notre Dame and Northwestern with Deeb next week on an unofficial visit. He is also going to check out Alabama and Georgia the following week. He says he's probably not going to do another camp, instead just training in preparation for the start of his junior season.

"I'm going to just get out there in August and go hard," Michel said. "First game, Kickoff Classic against Coral Gables, I think. I want to be on the field for the first play and hopefully grab the opening kickoff."

Corey Long

Reporter, RecruitingNation