Heading into the 2012 season it was well known that the Eagles couldn't afford to suffer any serious injuries if the team wanted to go back to a bowl game. As everyone knows by now, BC couldn't avoid the injury bug, and the already thin depth chart was even thinner when the season started with several players on the injured list.
One of those injured players was starting cornerback Al Louis-Jean. Near the beginning of summer camp the team lost ALJ during a fairly routine drill.
"The receiver was running a post and I jumped up to try and make an interception. I came down awkwardly on the side of my foot and I went down," said ALJ.
The cornerback knew the injury was somewhat serious, which X-rays later confirmed. The initial diagnosis was that ALJ would be out a minimum of a month and two months max, which meant he would only miss a couple of games. A few weeks later he went to get more X-rays to see how the foot fracture was healing. Unfortunately, recovery wasn't going as well as everyone had hoped, and ALJ was shut down for the rest of the season.
"Hearing the news shook me up because I had never missed more than a game or two because of an injury. To lose a whole season like that, it shook me up mentally. The only way to move forward was to take it for what it was. It can take a toll on you mentally not being able to do what you love doing," said ALJ.
ALJ worked through the injury and rehabbed hard to make a full recovery. The first test on his foot came during the winter when the team conducted player-led workouts.
"During winter workouts we did agility drills and that was the period of time where I had to get over my foot injury. It was weaker at some points, but by the time spring ball started everything went perfectly fine. It wasn't a mental issue at that point anymore," said ALJ.
ALJ participated in spring practice and was a full participant most of the time. Once in a while the coaches held him back just as a precautionary measure.
"The spring went really well. If we had a game tomorrow I'd be out there ready to go, I'm 100%. Right now I'm ready for the summer and getting ready for the season," said ALJ.
Aside from getting over his foot injury, ALJ had to learn Don Brown's new defense during spring practice. The new defense is very different from the defense that Frank Spaziani and Bill McGovern ran in their time at the Heights. Long gone are the days of 8-10 yard cushions on wide receivers. Brown's defense counts on his cornerbacks playing tight man coverage and being left out on an island against a wide receivers from time-to-time.
ALJ says that the learning curve wasn't quite as big for him since it's a style which he's played in the past, and one which he enjoys playing.
"It's obviously different from our old defense to now but it's nothing new to me. Its how I've wanted to play---up close to receivers and pressing like that---it's how I played in high school. Like I said it's a changeup from our old defense but it's to our advantage. It gives us more opportunity to show ours skills. Really though, competing one-on-one in coverage is a big deal in football and it's just a fun defense to play," said ALJ.
ALJ also said that Brown's defense is one which cornerback recruits will be interested to play in. It will remain to be seen if Brown's defense can bring in more quality cornerback recruits like ALJ, a position that BC has traditionally struggled recruiting at a high level in the past.