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April 6, 2011MADISON - Entering the program as a five-star recruit, somewhat of a rarity at Wisconsin, offensive tackle Josh Oglesby had high expectations. While those expectations were understandable considering the lengthy list of offers Oglesby accrued, they may have still been too high.
That's not a knack on the player as much as it is the numerous fans that expected Joe Thomas-like production out of the Milwaukee-area native from the time he stepped foot on campus. Instead, Oglesby took a different path.
Now, as he enters his fifth and final season with the program, Oglesby's actual career has a more sound shape and focus than his projected one did. He's been a solid and productive right tackle throughout. He's also been mired with injuries. Last year, a year many expected great things, is a prime example.
"I guess going into the UNLV game I was fully healthy," Oglesby said. "That was where I initially tore my ACL. I took a helmet to the side of the knee and I felt it kind of give out. I got up and I played the next play. I think it was a third down and we didn't convert on the pass so I went to the sidelines. We were up by enough so coach just pulled me out.
"We had an MRI that showed a minor tear."
But with so much pomp and circumstance surrounding UW's vaunted offensive line from a year ago, Oglesby took it upon himself to adhere to the pain and give it another go the following week against San Jose State.
"It fully went," Oglesby said. "We really didn't know what was going on at the time so we just tried to keep battling through it until eventually I was just like 'I've got to shut it down.'"
Just like that, just two games into what turned out to be a magical ride, Oglesby's junior season came to a close. It was a cruel, but familiar injury for the 6-foot-7, 320-pound tackle that has now endured four separate knee surgeries during his football career dating back to high school.
"I guess the frustrating part about it was not being able to fully enjoy the successes the team was having," Oglesby, one of the more popular players on the roster, said. "I've said it before, being such an integral part to the success of the team one year, to being taken out of that role due to an injury is pretty tough to handle.
"That was the only frustrating part about it."
Now, as the rest of his teammates work through the midway point of spring drills, Oglesby is slowing functioning his way back into certain individual activity with the majority of the focus being centered on footwork.
Considering he had to spend a month essentially doing nothing, Oglesby seems to be pleased with his rehab process.
"The things I'm doing now are more on the high activity level for the type of injury I have," Oglesby said. "Theoretically I'm actually a month behind the recovery time because there was a month where I wasn't weight bearing because of the full meniscus tear as well. I guess instead of being five months out (from the injury) I'm only four months out.
"Being able to do some football related work is pretty good."
Knowing Oglesby's history with knee injuries, as well as the trials and tribulations of several of his teammates (Curt Phillips and Aaron Henry to name a couple) trying to come back from similar injuries, it's a legitimate to incur whether Oglesby is trying to force the issue by being so active so soon.
According to him, though, that isn't even a worry.
"Everything we're doing is controlled," Oglesby said. "We're making sure we stay on top of the swelling, the pain and things like that. I'm wearing this compression sleeve and we ice it two to three times a day.
"We're just staying on top of everything like that."
Ideally, Oglesby is eyeing a full return by the start of summer conditioning. If that's not logistic, then the senior wants to be healthy for the onset of fall camp. Once there, Oglesby knows he'll have to fight for his starting right tackle job, especially since Casey Dehn is fairing pretty well so far this spring.
"He's got a lot of potential," Oglesby said. "I'm doing everything I can right now to help him along and learn the position and things like that. Everyone out here has to work to do to get better, but Casey is taking steps in the right directions. It's going to be a good battle come fall.
"I'm going to go in there with a mindset of winning my job back."