Updated: May 15, 2022
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
When LSU's third year linebacker Antoine Sampah joined the Tigers from Virginia's Woodbridge High, he arrived as the state's #1 overall prospect in 2020 coming back from a knee injury during his senior season.
Playing in 4 games across 2020, Sampah's pandemic-effected freshman year was a good spot for the linebacker to settle in, get cozy and really start to take that next step in his development. Throughout 2021's off-season, Antoine enjoyed a strong Spring camp, rising in the eyes of LSU coaches, fans or media members alike, culminating in an interception during his standout Spring Game performance.
But since that Spring Game outing, LSU fans haven't seen much of the highly gifted Virginia-native, if at all on the field of play, with many wondering whether the linebacker was hurt again or even left the program. The truth?
LSU Odyssey went right to the source, Antoine himself, now eliminating any mystery as to why his second year became another lost campaign, while answering any questions concerning his LSU status right now:
LONN: Hey Antoine, how you doin'?
ANTOINE: Doing good! I have been dealing with an injury recently and had to get some surgeries to fix them, so I been out for a lil while but I’m recovering good now and should be cleared to play around August time!
LONN: What kind of injury are you dealing with right now?
ANTOINE: I had a herniated disc in my lower back that was pushing against a nerve and causing me pain throughout my right leg. I had the surgery mid-March, so I’ve been just trynna getting back healthy and strong. I’m not in much of any pain anymore, so thats good, but it’s just a long process for me to get fully back but ima get there!!!
LONN: The back? I'm sorry!
ANTOINE: I probably won’t be playing in camp, but sometime around the season i should be cleared, just gotta take my time with this one! I miss playing like crazy, but it’ll just make me want it even more!
LONN: How is the pain now?
ANTOINE: I am in some pain, but i am still pretty early in the decompression stage of my disc, which is the recover part of the surgery and usually around the 3 month mark is where i should not be feeling anymore symptoms of the inflammation of the disc.
I've had a lot of controversy over if i should even try to play next season because of the extent of the injury and amount of recovery time that i have (between the surgery date and the time of the season); So, i just gotta see where I'm at physically in a couple more months to really get a gauge of if i should come back and play that early or not.
It is unfortunate that I have to wait it out like this, but at the end of the day, i gotta see if my body will allow me to play at my best ability.
LONN: You said there's "you've had a lot of controversy" over this decision, is this controversy coming from the medical staff? Coaching staff? Your parents?
ANTOINE: Yeah, as in medical staff, cause i had radiating nerve pain for the longest now. It started last season, I hurt my shoulder & back, but continued to play the rest of the season after the Central Michigan game.
I was getting shots in my back for it to get better, but then I eventually got surgery for it and when i did get my first surgery for it, on February 3rd of this year, i was getting treatment and recovering for it, but then it got worse again and it turned out i was herniated again.
So, i was faced with a decision to either not get the surgery again or wait to get more shots. But i was in immense pain and was recommended to get the surgery to fix it again, and i did, thats why i had another surgery in mid-March for it.
Beau Lowery, the head medical advisor here at LSU, has discussed with me about my situation and is worried about my return because he isn't comfortable with me returning to play that early in the fall since i had those two surgery surgeries.
If it had not herniated after the first surgery, the medical staff probably wouldn't be cautious but it is what it is and i just got to control the things i can control and get back healthy and strong, which this gives me the time to do so!
LONN: That's smart, the worst thing now would be to rush you back after that kind of injury.
ANTOINE: Yes, and he (Lowery) was recommending that, knowing I've been experiencing the pain for so long and it takes a good amount of time for the nerve that was being pressed against to heal and form back into its normal form.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN @LonnPhillips
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