It could have been anyone.
That’s what fifth-year senior offensive lineman Kyle Kalis remembers thinking when he left Grant Newsome’s hospital room.
Newsome, Michigan’s sophomore starting left tackle, suffered a season-ending knee injury — one coach Jim Harbaugh said was as serious as a knee injury could be — in the Wolverines’ 14-7 win over Wisconsin on Saturday.
Tuesday, Kalis recalled visiting Newsome in the hospital recently along with fellow linemen Mason Cole and Erik Magnuson and quarterback Wilton Speight. Kalis was struck by seeing “everything he was hooked up to,” and when he left, it hit him that any one of them could be the one in his position.
“After, especially, going to see him, and seeing what was going on with his leg and seeing everything he was hooked up to, I mean, it’s hard,” Kalis said. “It was me, Mason, Mags and Wilton (who visited) and we left the room, and it was just like, ah, like that could be any of us. And that’s just a bad feeling. I’m really sad it happened to him, and I do not wish that on my worst enemy.”
Newsome has started every game this season at left tackle for the Wolverines, improving as the season has gone on. Harbaugh spoke Monday about Newsome’s character, suggesting his parents write a book on how to raise children.
And for Kalis, the way Newsome’s injury happened didn’t make it any easier to swallow.
“It was something he couldn’t control, and it was also kind of a cheap shot,” Kalis said. “When a defensive guy is supposed to chop, common courtesy is to go at your ankles so you know if they swipe out your ankles you go up. But no, this guy dove at his knees. It wasn’t a good thing the kid did. It wasn’t an illegal move, but it’s one of those things where it’s just like, ‘Come on, dude.’ You don’t do that kind of stuff.”
Newsome lay on the ground for an extended period of time after the play, and just as they had one week before, teammates poured off the sideline to see him onto the cart that had come on the field.
But Newsome never got on the cart. Instead, he limped off to the locker room.
“He’s a tough son of a bitch,” Kalis said. “We went to go see him in the hospital and he was telling us about what all was wrong with him and stuff. … The amount of pain that kid was in was unreal. And the fact that — it wasn’t smart that he probably walked off, probably wasn’t the smartest thing — but the fact he did, you’ve gotta respect that kid. He’s a tough kid.”
With as serious as the injury now sounds, it’s a wonder he didn’t just take the free ride and save himself the added strain. But Kalis, who said he once ran off the field after spraining his ankle, explained there was more at work than a simple assessment of pain.
“In that kind of situation, where you’re in front of 110,000 people, it’s one of those things where you have a lot of adrenaline going through you,” he said. “So you don’t really feel that much pain until you get out of that environment. So I’m sure he was feeling it after it happened, but I’m sure he wasn’t thanking himself for it.”
Now, the Wolverines are tasked with replacing a key member of their line. But given the tragic way Newsome’s season ended, it can be hard to think about football.
“Grant didn’t do anything wrong,” Kalis said. “He was playing a hell of a game until that point, and it just happened.
“Didn’t deserve it, it just happened.”