Barbe High School's DeSean Smith is one of the most high profile football players in the state and in the top 100 recruits across the country. I spoke with the senior tight end about a surgery he had to undergo to allow him to keep catching the ball.
His hands, smarts and height make Barbe's DeSean Smith - DeSean Smith! But it is the falls, tackles and intensity of 5A football that once moved this now senior tight end from the field to the hospital. "I couldn't even lift my arm above my head," said Smith.
Wear and tear, mixed with a couple of high impact hits, caused Smith so much pain that he could not ignore it any longer. "It was horrible," he said, "it was the worst pain ever and I don't want that again."
Lake Charles Memorial Hospital's Director of Sports Medicine, Dr. Brett Cascio knew the problem was impacted Smith's performance. "This time it prevented him from doing what he's supposed to be doing, which is to catch footballs," he said.
When Smith came to Dr. Cascio, two problems showed up on MRI. "One was at the end of his clavicle bone, or his collar bone, and the other was his labrum, on the inside of his shoulder. It's a cushion," said Dr. Cascio.
Rehab and injections helped Smith finish out his junior season, but surgery was inevitable if this recruit wanted a solid, healthy football future. "We timed the surgery so that he could finish his 2011 season," said Dr. Cascio, "but be ready for his 2012 season and then we gave up the contact portion of his spring football."
Surgery was performed to fix the torn labrum that was painfully pulling on the inside of the shoulder and the clavicle, where early arthritis had formed, was repaired. Smith's first season post-surgery was about as successful as a senior year can get - making it all the way to the dome and just this month, the U.S. Army All-American team.
Still, it started with nerves over the injuries that led to surgery. "I was nervous because I hadn't been back on the field, but after my first big hit, everything was ready," he said, "I guess it just took that one big hit."
Smith says he is glad he went through with the surgery when he did, allowing him to have a healthy and successful senior season, opening the door to become an LSU Tiger. "It just took time and patience and I let everything build back up and now look where I'm at!" said Smith.
In just a few weeks, Smith plans to sign with the LSU Tigers Football Team on National Signing Day. He says he cannot wait to become an LSU Tiger and represent Southwest Louisiana in Tiger Stadium.