UND linebacker Jade Lawrence working to avoid injuries this season

GRAND FORKS, (FNS) — Jade Lawrence is adamant that he doesn’t want to complain or make excuses about 2018, even though he has good reason to.

The University of North Dakota linebacker from Moorhead, Minn., sprained his foot in the season’s opening game against Mississippi Valley State University and was never healthy the rest of the season.

He missed four games. He tried to play through the injury in other games, but couldn’t stay on the field in many of them. It led to the lowest production numbers of his career.

“It was tough at times, but there were guys playing with worse. . . Tanner (Palmborg) with his knee,” Lawrence said, referencing Palmborg’s ACL tear. “So, you can’t make excuses.”

Lawrence said he didn’t heal until about March — four months after the season ended.

“I had to get some insoles in my feet to take care of that,” he said.

Now, Lawrence is healthy and determined to have a bounce-back senior season. The 6-foot-1, 214-pound outside linebacker, who has 81 takes, 15 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in his career, also has changed his approach: It’s not only about what he’s doing on the field, he’s also working harder than ever off the field to maintain his health.

“I’m taking care of my body a lot more than I did in the past,” Lawrence said. “I’m doing a lot more foam rolling and band-work stuff on my legs. Evan Holm has been a big help with that. He showed me a lot of stuff that can keep you from feeling sore after these first couple days of camp. It relieves a lot of pain in your lower legs. Evan has been a big help.”

Although Lawrence didn’t want to make excuses about 2018, he acknowledged the frustration that last season’s injury brought him.

“It was pretty frustrating not being able to play to the level you know you can play and being limited physically,” Lawrence said. “You’ve just got to roll with it and work to get better. I think I’ve done that in the past offseason and I’m ready to go this year.

“I think I’m moving better. I’m doing a lot of pass rushing. I’m not the biggest outside backer, so I have to beat the tackles with speed. I feel pretty good these first couple days. Being able to stay on top of my health and stay mobile is my goal for camp.”

Although this season will be his last in college football, Lawrence said his mindset is outlook on the game is the same as the past.

“I’ve always had the same outlook, it’s never going to be any different,” Lawrence said. “I love football and playing this game. Knowing this is probably my last football season ever is surreal and a little bittersweet, but it’s another reason that I love to play this game.”