IOWA CITY — In January, Iowa’s total-team fireball this season was in a hospital bed wondering what in the H-E-double hockey sticks was going on with his body.
Jordan Bernstine was one of the 13 Hawkeyes who was stricken with rhadbomyolysis after a strenuous workout in late January. This isn’t going to be a rehash. Fingers were pointed. Grandstanding was declared. In the end, it was a freak deal and that’s that.
The moral of the story is how you deal with it. Three players left for various reasons, one only tied to rhabdo. Everyone else is healthy and on the team, including Bernstine.
If anyone could’ve run away from Iowa City and trumpet rhadbo as the reason why, it was Bernstine.
His body did some weird stuff.
“Yes, I got a little bigger. They all joked about it and stuff like that,” Bernstine said Tuesday. Actually, Bernstine’s brother, Keevon, posted on his Facebook page that Jordan was “fat as hell.”
Water weight accumulated. It noticeably accumulated. Boy, did it accumulate.
“Overnight, I went in at 210 or 212 or something like that,” Bernstine said. “The next day I was 245 or something. It was interesting. It’s something inexplicable. Going through, it’s funny to look back on now.
“It’s in the past, just like everything else. I’m looking to the future now.”
Don’t gloss over the “everything else” in that statement. Bernstine has been there and back with injuries in his five years at Iowa. In fact, if it wasn’t for the broken ankle before 2009, Bernstine’s eligibility would’ve been used up by now. But the ankle took him out of the year and he was able to use his redshirt.
“It was a pretty nasty injury and he’s come back now,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “[He] Had a good spring. Really was moving around well and doing a lot of good things and has just continued on.”
Don’t gloss over that “has just continued on.”
Bernstine has been an all-conference “utility player.” We’re stealing the baseball term here for, basically, the guy who does a little bit of everything.
Bernstine stepped into the starting lineup at strong safety in week 3 and has 18 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. He’s been even better on special teams. He’s fifth in the Big Ten in kick returns with 23.0 yards on eight attempts. He threw a block that sprung Micah Hyde for a 30-yard punt return against Louisiana Monroe last week. He also scooped an Eric Guthrie punt before it went for a touchback and teammates downed the ball inside ULM’s 5.
“He’s doing a lot to really help our football team right now,” Ferentz said.
Bernstine came to Iowa with a lot of recruiting hype, stars and all that. He admitted to some low points during five years of training room sitting, waiting for various injuries to heal. You know about the ankle. There also was hamstring and knee “dinks.”
And, really, the true blow to the gut about the rhabdo was Bernstine had just come off of one of his better performances as a Hawkeye in the Insight Bowl.
He got through, stayed cool and stayed the course. He missed the training in the lead up to spring practice, but he made it through that and said Tuesday his fall camp was the best he’s had in his five years.
“Sure, there were setbacks here and there, but I never stopped believing,” the Des Moines native said. “When others did, I had my family there. They were still just pushing me. I believe in myself. I thought if I could just stay healthy, I would be able to help the team in some way.
“There might’ve been a time here and there where I second-guessed it a little bit. For the most part, you’ve got to be able to be confident in your abilities and go out there and do it physically.”
Sure, there was the strep throat and the fever that went with it that held him out of the Iowa State game. He’s still here. It’s been five years of medical madness, but Jordan Bernstine is still here.
And just in time, if that makes sense.