MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Yodny Cajuste had it all in front of him when WVU lined up to host Missouri last season on Sept. 3. Then, in the blink of an eye and the twist of a knee, it was gone. The bright left tackle went down against the Tigers with a torn ACL and never returned to the field. Until now, that is.
As fall camp hits full swing, so too does Cajuste. A soft spoken 6-foot-5, 308-pound redshirt junior out of Miami, Cajuste never lost his faith — in God and in himself. That’s what brought him back.
“Just praying every day,” Cajuste said of what helped him get back on the field. “Just sticking to what you do every day. It’s uncontrollable. You’ve just gotta just wait. … It’s real hard. But everything’s in God’s plan, so you just got to stick with it.”
Injuries can go one of two ways: You either let it destroy your confidence, or you let it rebuild your confidence. Cajuste chose the latter of the two.
“I started trusting myself through the rehab process and training and doing things that prepared myself for this,” the gentle giant said.
It helped, too, that his new position coach was right there to push him through it all. Joe Wickline, who took over offensive line duties full-time this season, had plenty of heart-to
-hearts with Cajuste to keep his mind right through the injury and recover process.
Maybe none of those conversations were more important than one Wickline recalled earlier this week.
“We are challenging Yodny and saying ‘Look. Let’s go ahead and put a year together. Let’s get better,’” Wickline said. “He takes it every day and does a nice job.”
Since the injury, Cajuste has been mainly on light duty, rehabbing and training to strengthen his knee. That, Wickline said, should allow the big man to be fresh for camp and rejuvenated by the time the Mountaineers roll into FedEx Field on Sept. 4 to take on Virginia Tech.
“He ought to have fresh legs. He hasn’t done a whole lot,” Wickline said. “He is a really good young’un, and he takes it serious. He has a lot of pride in what he does, it’s important to him. … He has a big year ahead of him. We need to put a year together.”
Cajuste is in line to return to his starting left tackle spot this season, and he looks to return to full strength by that time, if not sooner. The one-time basketballer with quick feet and a thick base should pay dividends for a scrambler like Will Grier.
“I’m honestly trying to put the knee behind me. I’m feeling good, honestly,” Cajuste said with a smile. “I’m just blessed to be back out here.”
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS