MORGANTOWN - When Dustin Garrison arrived at the Puskar Center for West Virginia's first full-contact drills of preseason camp earlier this week, he was greeted by the last thing he wanted to see.
There in his locker was a green practice jersey.
"I definitely didn't want to see that,'' West Virginia's sophomore running back said. "I saw that in my locker and I thought, 'Oh, no.' I told [running backs coach Robert] Gillespie after the first couple of days I wanted white.''
Forgive West Virginia's coaches and trainers if they're a bit cautious where Garrison is concerned. After blowing out his knee in practice the week before January's Orange Bowl, it took reconstructive surgery to make him right again.
The green jersey was a nod to that. Normally, West Virginia's offensive players wear white. Green is for those players who will be limited in what they are allowed to do in practice. But at least it wasn't a red jersey, which means standing to the side and just watching.
Indeed, after a few days Garrison was back in a white jersey. That means defenders aren't limited in what they can do to him. He's since taken a few hits, bounced back up and been no worse for wear.
That's just what he wanted all along - to be able to take a hit and see what it was like.
"Now I know what it's like again and that I can handle it,'' Garrison said. "Now I have to just get back up and make more plays. I still get a little sore once in a while, but that comes with it.''
There is, of course, one concession to the knee injury that Garrison can't avoid. As he battles Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston for the job as West Virginia's No. 1 tailback, he does so with a brace on his injured knee.
"I don't like it. I hate it,'' Garrison said. "But the trainers and all those guys want me to use it just for precautionary reasons. I'd rather not use it, but I'm getting used to it.''
Does it hinder his ability to move and cut? Well, to a point.