First of all, let us focus on the most important things from the car wreck in rural Wisconsin that LSU place-kicker Colby Delahoussaye survived.
Tragically, two young men are dead: Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler. Two young men whose lives should have stretched out for decades before them. Two young men who won’t go on to be fathers, have careers or cheer their alma maters on to victory.
When I was in college, I had friends my age who died in car accidents. It leaves a mark on you that doesn’t go away, a wisp of survivor’s guilt, if you will, that lingers more than 25 years on. Hopefully that won’t be the same thing for Colby, though he’s almost certain to ask, “Why them and not me?” most of the rest of the days of his life.
Thankfully, of course, Colby was spared. Thankfully, he found his way out of that burning car and his way back to his family, his friends, his team. Every best wish goes out to him to make a full recovery both physically and mentally.
The team needs Delahoussaye to make that full recovery. He needs to know that. Feeling vital, useful, can be powerful medicine. Hopefully it will help him reacclimate to the life that now will have this huge gash through it, the before and the after. And he will need his team just as much, if not more.
It is easy to look with a jaundiced eye at the claims from football people that being embedded within the team culture will make all the difference in a young man's life. Usually it's couched in terms of mending their ways from some off-the-field transgression.
Maybe it's true more often than we would cynically like to believe. It's surely going to be true in his case.
Imagine the first time Delahoussaye is reuninted with his teammates. The relief. The joy. No doubt whenever Delahoussaye is medically cleared to kick again, the former drudgery of practice will seem like a blessing instead of a burden.
After Trent Domingue, who beat out Delahoussaye for the kicking job last season, quit the team after having his scholarship pulled — he announced he’s enrolling at Texas — the job is Delahoussaye's to reclaim virtually by default, provided he’s physically and mentally capable to do the job.
Though LSU welcomes a pair of freshman kickers this fall — Catholic High’s Jack Gonsoulin and Connor Culp out of Phoenix — it’s always best if you can place a critical position in experienced hands.
Those hands at place-kicker, fortunately, still belong to Colby Delahoussaye.