Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 9/6/12
MADISON, Wis. Months of rehabilitation on a torn left anterior cruciate ligament put running back Vonte Jackson in position to return on time for his freshman season of football at Wisconsin. Now, his season is over. And in order to return, even more months of rehabilitation lay ahead.Badgers coach Bret Bielema confirmed on Thursday that Jackson had suffered a torn ACL, this time in his right knee. Bielema said Jackson underwent successful surgery on Wednesday and would take a redshirt year."It was hard," Bielema said. "It was a very emotional time. He knew he did it right away. For those of you that have never popped an ACL I've popped two of them you know."Bielema said Jackson was running down on the scout cover team for a punt return in practice last week when the injury occurred. "The ball was going outside of him and he just tried to plant," Bielema said. "It was really a non-contact deal. He was very emotional. The good news is his dad came up that night and kind of calmed him down a little bit."Jackson has been in this position before. His first ACL tear occurred in the first game of his senior season at Kenosha Bradford High School when he injured the left knee with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. To that point, he had rushed for 160 yards with two touchdowns on 12 carries. The season was supposed to Jackson's breakout year because he spent the first few years of his high school career behind fellow Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. During Jackson's junior year, he carried 68 times for 956 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 14 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns.Partially in an effort to expedite the healing process, Jackson enrolled early at Wisconsin during the past spring semester.Bielema said he didn't expect Jackson back at full strength until fall camp begins in 2013. He likely would have taken a redshirt year anyway because he is behind running backs Montee Ball, James White, Gordon and Jeff Lewis on the depth chart. "He won't be full-go in the spring," Bielema said. "I think an ACL, you can just pretty much say six months. He should be getting back to movement and all that stuff. He probably won't be full-go, full contact until the fall."Bielema indicated that quarterback Curt Phillips was among those Wisconsin players to approach Jackson with words of advice. Phillips has suffered three ACL tears in his right knee."A number of guys on our team right now have had a torn ACL," Bielema said. "The benefit is both of these are on different knees, not on the same knee that's been traumatized."Bielema said he met with Jackson for 15 minutes on Thursday morning."He was really upbeat," Bielema said. "I said, The good news is you've done this already. So you got positive reinforcement as far as you can get yourself back.'" Byers out of football: Reserve linebacker Cody Byers has decided to give up football because of lingering symptoms from concussions. Byers, a redshirt sophomore from Centerville, Ohio, will be on a medical scholarship.Bielema said that Byers suffered a severe concussion last season and then sustained another concussion early in fall practice.He is the second Wisconsin player to give up football in the past few months as a result of concussion effects. Defensive tackle Jordan Kohout opted to forgo his playing career after suffering two small strokes from migraine headaches attributed to concussions. Kohout has stayed with the program this season as a coach."Cody's a great kid," Bielema said. "Going to see him get his degree here. I told him to take some time and just get away from what we're doing right now. Some kids want to jump right into it. Jordan Kohout, he's out there in the middle of it. But Cody kind of wanted to take a step back. "I think this was a very difficult thing for him personally. He's going to probably come back in some role as a coach here down line."Wild atmosphere: Bielema said he's expecting a raucous environment when Wisconsin travels to face Oregon State on Saturday. The Badgers will be the first Big Ten team to play in Corvallis since Iowa in 1971. Wisconsin also is the highest-ranked non-conference team to play there since BYU in 1977."It'll be a frenzy," Bielema said. "They've made reference several times, not only their coaches, but their players, that it's one of the biggest games on the non-conference schedule since they've been there. Our kids have been preparing with crowd noise and everything else this week. They've been embracing the opportunity to go play on the road."A near sellout crowd is expected at Reser Stadium, which seats 45,674 people. Bielema also announced that four freshmen would make the trip that have yet to appear in a game: linebacker Vince Biegel, defensive back Reggie Mitchell, wide receiver Reggie Love and offensive lineman Dan Voltz.Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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