CJ Coldon putting injury woes in rear-view mirror
LARAMIE — The physical toll an injury can cause is bad enough. The mental aspect, however, is often times the truly crippling factor.
Just ask CJ Coldon.
"Of course it messes with my head a little bit," Wyoming's junior cornerback told the press Wednesday evening. "I just have to stay mentally strong. I've never been injured before."
Before 2018 that is.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 178-pound speedster from Illinois sustained a stinger in his neck in the home opener against Washington State. The following week in Columbia, Missouri, Coldon ran into a brick wall named Albert Okwuegbunam.
The Tigers' 256-pound tight end got the best of the meeting, leaving Coldon with an injured nerve in his neck. Though he led with his right shoulder on the attempted tackle, his left arm went numb.
It stayed that way for weeks.
Coldon would miss the final nine games of the season.
Last season was supposed to serve as the great comeback. Coldon was starting at the corner opposite of Tyler Hall after Antonio Hull unexpectedly left the program. He was getting a second chance. And the Cowboys' first game was against, of all teams, Missouri.
The script was taking shape.
With 8:00 remaining on the clock in the second quarter and Wyoming trailing 14-3, Coldon scooped up a Kelly Bryant fumble, shook a would-be tackler and raced to the end zone.
That touchdown sparked the home team. The Cowboys would score 27 points in that 15-minute span and eventually shocked the college football world with the 37-31 upset.
Coldon finished the day with five tackles, including one for loss.
The best part -- he was healthy. Unfortunately for Coldon, it wouldn't last
Coldon suffered a season-ending knee injury in a home win over Idaho two weeks later.
He went from the highest of highs back to months of grueling rehab sessions.
"It was very hard," he said. "The following week from when I got hurt was Tulsa. I was supposed to have a lot of family at that game. It was the only close game (to Illinois) last year. It definitely hurt me a little bit. Now, it's about the bounce back and how you respond."
Coldon walked into his Wednesday Zoom interview with a half-evaporated bag of ice. Admittedly, he is still sore as he goes through yet another fall camp filled with expectations.
The Pokes' cornerback group is young. The lone returning experience belongs to Azizi Hearn and Coldon.
In reality, Coldon is beginning his fourth season in the program. He has just six games to show for it.
What will be different about 2020?
That is yet to be seen. Coldon just wants to keep his mind on the task at hand, not the setbacks that have claimed his last two seasons.
"Really, just controlling what I can control," he said. "Stay in the training room, stay up on rehabbing and recovering after practice. I'm still a little off, just because I haven't done anything football related.
"... I should be ready."