ACL injuries often require at least six months of rehab, but Texas A&M junior tight end Ryan Renick returned to the field just five months removed from surgery.
Not only did Renick have ACL surgery after a left knee injury during spring camp, but he also tore his meniscus in the same knee last season and had an operation to repair it after the season ended.
Renick said after the two surgeries in the offseason, he anticipated redshirting this season.
“I wasn’t planning on being back that early, but I just showed up every day, did my rehab and I worked hard,” Renick said. “It worked out.”
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he was impressed by Renick’s quick return.
“For him to even be out there is amazing, let alone be playing,” Fisher said. “This young man is going to be successful in whatever he does in life.”
In August, Renick was cleared to return to fall camp, just four months post-operation. He played in his first game on Sept. 14 in A&M’s 62-3 win over Lamar. During the matchup, he recorded a 19-yard reception, his only catch of the season.
Renick may not have an impressive statline over the six games he’s played this season, but Fisher said he has nonetheless been a key to the Aggies’ success.
“Renick is playing super football,” Fisher said. “All that guy does is do it right. There’s a lot of unheralded things people don’t see. What that guy’s doing is helping us play good football.”
Renick is also undertaking a new responsibility on the special teams unit as a blocker on punts. At 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds, he is a far cry from sophomore defensive lineman Bobby Brown’s 6-foot-4, 325-pound frame, but senior punter Braden Mann said Renick has shined in the new role.
“He may not be our biggest guy on the shield, but he is strong as an ox,” Mann said. “His legs are just like tree trunks. He may not look as big as Bobby, but he can get it done.”
A Brazos Valley native, Renick played at Iola High School and spent time at Kansas before walking on at A&M in 2018. Growing up just 28 miles away from Aggieland, Renick said it was always a dream to play for the Aggies.
“Iola, it’s a small 2A school, so originally I’m thinking, ‘I just want a chance,’” Renick said. “I never thought I’d be here, playing at Texas A&M.”
Fisher said playing at a hometown college is an intimidating thing to do — often more so than fans realize.
“Sometimes they get there, but sometimes there’s such pressure from being at home you don’t play as well,” Fisher said. “Then you walk around there your whole life and it’s like, ‘Well, you played there, but you didn't get it done.’ That’s a big burden to carry.”
Renick said while he is appreciative of his time with the Jayhawks, his position wasn’t one that saw much playing time there.
“[It] wasn’t quite the opportunity I wanted,” Renick said. “I loved the school, loved everything about it, but this is home. So I came back and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given here.”
Renick may still not be getting the playing time he originally wanted, but Fisher said players who are walk-ons typically leave the program with much more than a full statline.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to be around some great walk-ons in my time,” Fisher said. “They end up being some really special people. The toughness it brings, the mentality it brings, it’s amazing how successful they become. And I think Renick will be one of those guys.”