Updated: November 7, 2011 at 12:00 am
When outside linebacker Patrick Hennessey came back to finish his Air Force football career this semester, he was hoping for a more perfect final season.
Hennessey was granted a ninth semester of eligibility because of a medical hardship. This season has been another medical hardship.
Hennessey broke a bone near the base of his thumb in Air Force’s second game. The initial prognosis was that he might miss two months or more. He came back in just a few weeks, with a huge club cast that made him a limited player. He didn’t get his starting spot back until Saturday, when he wore a smaller cast that allowed him more movement in his hand.
“It’s definitely making me stronger as a person, and my character,” Hennessey said. “It has been very trying.”
Hennessey has been honest about how coming back for a fifth season was difficult. Not that he regretted coming back, because he felt fortunate to get another season, but he did miss being a part of his graduating class. Dealing with the injury brought him more conflicted feelings.
“Coming back was tough in itself, and to come back and be injured is one of the toughest things to do,” Hennessey said. “To be sitting in class and the teacher talking about being a lieutenant of the graduating class before. Or you’re on the computer and then on Facebook pops up what people are doing.”
When Hennessey suffered the injury, he was told he might be out until late November. The surgery went well, however. He had pins inserted in his thumb, and there was no ligament damage. Hennessey said he wanted to play as soon as possible, and he came back against Navy on Oct. 1.
The problem was, Hennessey was a shell of the starter he had been. He was barely playing off the bench for a few weeks. Even though his snaps increased as the weeks went on, he remained a backup through October.
He said he tried to keep things in perspective. His good friend Ken Lamendola was also back for a fifth season, but Lamendola has played part of just one game. A hamstring injury put him back on the sideline. Although Hennessey has been disappointed by this season, he is able to have a big-picture perspective.
“It’s making me mentally tougher, and I’m sure it’ll correlate to my life in the future,” Hennessey said. “Any career you’re in, you’re not going to always be on the upside of every deal, there will be some downsides you have to deal with.”
Hennessey’s season is getting better. He resumed his role as a starter last week against Army. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said Hennessey played 71 snaps, the most for any Falcons outside linebacker this season, and played well. Calhoun said Hennessey played a bit tentatively in October, but that was understandable.
“He was playing with one arm and one hand, so he didn’t play very much,” Calhoun said. “(Saturday) you saw a different quickness. Whenever you have all your parts, you play at a different level.”
Safety Jon Davis and kicker Parker Herrington were honored as the Mountain West’s defensive and special teams players of the week, respectively. Davis had 12 tackles, an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Herrington hit all three of his field-goal attempts. Davis was also named the Walter Camp Football Foundation national defensive player of the week.
Contact Frank Schwab: 476-4891
Facebook Gazette Frank Schwab