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Andrew Vorhees Is 'Thankful' After Last Year's Combine Knee Injury

G Andrew Vorhees
G Andrew Vorhees

Andrew Vorhees remembers the conversation with the Indianapolis Colts team doctor vividly.

The day before, while doing offensive lineman drills at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, Vorhees crumpled to the turf with a right knee injury. He was hopeful that it wasn't too major. After all, it didn't hurt that bad.

At 7 a.m., the Colts' doctor confirmed that it was a torn ACL – a devastating blow to the University of Southern California guard's draft stock. Vorhees spent a couple minutes "contemplating my new reality," and then asked the doctor a question.

Can I go do the 225?

The 225 is the bench press drill. The doctor was confused and hesitant.

You said it was torn. I'm not going to make it any worse, am I?

The doctor said he had a point. So Vorhees immediately took a medical cart to the stage for the bench press, arriving a few minutes late with nothing but a bag of Fritos chips in his stomach and bulky knee brace keeping his leg straight.

Then he knocked out 38 bench press – the most of anyone at last year's Combine by four reps.

The moment went viral and Vorhees was still drafted, albeit much later than he would have, when the Ravens traded back into the seventh round to grab him with pick No. 229.

A year later, the way Vorhees looks back on the Combine injury shows just as much about who he is as what he did that day on the bench press. He's healthy mentally, and now physically, and itching to get back on the field this spring.

"I'm thankful for every challenge and opportunity that has presented itself as a direct result of my injury," he said this week at the Under Armour Performance Center, where he continues to work out to get ready for the 2024 season.

"I'm confident in myself. I'm confident in our staff here. We've done everything they can to get me back to where I can be. It's just a matter of time now."

Vorhees has a few reasons why he's thankful for what happened, and he used that word several times.

Vorhees didn't see the field at all last year, which was no surprise. He said the nine-month recovery timeline after the injury happened was straightforward and has played out as expected. But he did gain some valuable experience.

He was in every meeting, in the locker room with his teammates. He did everything any other rookie would do but except practice and play.

"Not a lot of guys get the opportunity to 'redshirt' as a rookie. There's a lot of benefits to it," Vorhees said. "I think it will definitely have a huge, huge positive impact on my career.

USC offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees participates in the bench press at the NFL football Combine on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Indianapolis.

"I feel like I was able to take a deep dive into football and really understand this offense, understand what it's like to be a pro by following guys like Patrick Ricard and Kevin Zeitler around – guys you want to model your career after."

Vorhees took note of their routines, their practice habits, nutrition, how they carried themselves in the locker room and elsewhere.

The other part of his job was just rehabbing, which he attacked without any need to rush.

"I'm stronger than ever," he said. "It's just scratching days off on the calendar getting ready for OTAs."

With Zeitler and John Simpson both pending free agents, Vorhees is part of a group of young returning Ravens who will have a chance to carve out big roles. There's still a long way to go in Baltimore's offensive line "rebuild," but as of now, the top contenders to fill the two starting guard spots would be Ben Cleveland, Sala Aumavae-Laulu, and Vorhees.

Vorhees was an AP first-team All American and Morris Trophy winner (top offensive and defensive lineman in the Pac-12) in his final season at USC. His tape tells the story of a physical, polished blocker that could certainly be part of Baltimore's offensive line solution.

Vorhees said he's not thinking about the competition that lies ahead. He's just eager to put on cleats and shoulder pads for the first time since 2022.

"I'll control what I can. You control your attitude and your effort," he said. "If you just work hard, good things will happen. I'm a firm believer in that. I have to do the right things consistently and we'll see what happens this fall."

The other part of the past year that Vorhees said he's thankful for is the community he found.

The story of him winning the bench press with a shredded knee blew up, and Vorhees even got messages from greats such as Hall of Fame offensive tackle Tony Boselli (a fellow USC Trojan) and J.J. Watt.

That was cool, but he was especially touched by the messages he got from kids on social media who had also recently torn their ACLs and drew inspiration from seeing him push on.

"That was really neat," he said. "It will be cool down the line when I have kids, for them to see that. That had a really interesting impact on me.

"I just couldn't be more thankful to be where I am and be with this organization. It's been an awesome experience so far."

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