Not even the loss of part of his right leg is stopping Charlottesville's Jacob Rainey from playing college football.
Rainey -- who had to have his leg amputated at the knee following a freak accident during a 2011 scrimmage -- has accepted an offer to walk on at Virginia.
"It just feels good to kind of prove everyone that said I wasn't going to play again wrong," Rainey, a quarterback at the Woodberry Forest School,
says. "And show that I can still do it at a high level."
The Cavaliers were just one of the ACC football programs recruiting the 6-3, 215-lb. Rainey two years ago.
"Early part of that summer, I traveled with him down to Virginia Tech. Watched him run a 4.6 (in the 40-yard dash)," Woodberry Forest coach Clint Alexander recalled.
But then the unthinkable: Rainey's right leg was badly injured when he was tackled in a September 2011 scrimmage. A ruptured artery cut off circulation to the lower part of the leg, leading to its eventual amputation a week later.
"For he and his family to be on the brink of achieving all their dreams, and to have it taken away so suddenly," Alexander said. "Watching him grow from this, I think, has been more impressive that anything else about it.
"He never lost focus of his dream," Alexander added. "And the one thing that's always impressed me about this whole venture was, he never talked about not getting back on the field."
"I mean, at first I really had to think about every single step," Rainey said of his prosthesis during a recent workout at Monticello High School. "But now that I'm used to it, it's kind of like second nature for me now."
About a year after losing the leg, Rainey was Woodberry's starting quarterback for the Tigers' season opener against Benedictine, leading the Tigers to a touchdown on their opening drive. Last November, he ended his prep career by leading Woodberry to three scoring drives in a 44-14 win over arch rival Episcopal.
"It's rewarding, I guess," Rainey said, "to just kind of feel like I'm back to where I was before I got hurt."
And now -- just like he planned all along -- Rainey is getting ready to continue his football career in college. During one warm Saturday afternoon last month, he was throwing lasers with Joe Sanford from the AthElite Factory, who Rainey trained with regularly before his injury.
"I mean, he's still the same player, as far as mentally in the game," Sanford said. "He's still got the same drive to be perfect; the same drive to throw good passes out here, and do all the mechanics right.
"Just having that freak thing happen shouldn't push your goals aside," Sanford added. "So I'm glad that he followed through with that. And thankful he got the opportunity."
That opportunity came from Virginia head coach Mike London, about a month ago. London offered Rainey a spot with his hometown Cavaliers as a preferred walk-on.
"They've been by my side the whole time. When I was hurt, they called me all the time, checked up on me," Rainey said. "And it's kind of come full circle, for them to offer that to me and make me part of the program."
"I shared this with my wife. I said, if he was just getting recruited -- going to schools, the big prospect -- that school would be excited. But he's touched hearts all over the country," said Alexander. "I think, in one sense, he's going to be able to do something special. And watching how he's handled it since the injury, I know he is."
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