Etheridge to Cap Dream Season in Saturday's Senior Bowl
A little over a year ago, Zac Etheridge's future in the game of football was cloudy at best.
After suffering an injury to his C-2 vertebrae in the 2009 game against Ole Miss, Etheridge was carted off the field on a stretcher and Auburn medical staff members feared that the Troy native's injury could lead to paralysis.
In a remarkable turn of events, one year later Etheridge is fully recovered from his injury and looking forward to a future that has never been brighter.
"After the injury, once they (doctors) gave me a chance to play again, I just put my head down and kept on grinding and just worked my tail off to get back out there on the field," Etheridge said. "I knew we would have a good team and I just wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to leave Auburn as a winner and the hard work paid off."
The reward for his efforts was a banner senior season culminating with him helping to lead Auburn to its second national championship in school history. Etheridge will put the finishing touches on his collegiate career at Saturday's Under Armour Senior Bowl.
In a venue where most players are treating the week leading up to the game like a job interview, Etheridge is clearly enjoying himself and not taking this opportunity for granted.
Whether its teasing Auburn teammate and fellow Senior Bowl defender linebacker Josh Bynes during his interviews, or playfully rubbing Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy's head in passing, Etheridge's jubilant spirit has been a welcome addition to cut through the seriousness and anxiety surrounding the event.
"I'm just cherishing these moments and having fun," Etheridge said. "At the same time, I know that I have to work hard this week to ensure that I'll get that call on draft day."
With finding a career in the NFL as the main agenda, the Tigers strong safety realizes that scouts will question him about concerns related to the injury. However, Etheridge feels like the journey to make it back onto field shines as a testament to his love for the game.
"I think I've shown that I can handle any type of adversity that comes my way," Etheridge said. "I don't let myself get too high or too low, and that's one of the main things for me that scouts see. This past season I was able to stay healthy and had a nice year so I hope they focus on that."
As an added bonus, Etheridge will get to play one last game in his home state.