Guillory bouncing back

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

On the field where his football career nearly ended last year, it will resume for Brandon Guillory tomorrow night.

With one blindside -but clean - hit from Calgary Stampeder offensive lineman Bobby Singh in a simple play in a preseason game at McMahon Stadium last year, Guillory was left with a spinal cord contusion.

The Edmonton Eskimos defensive end couldn't move a limb for nearly five minutes and doctors quickly cautioned that his career could be over.

But 12 months later, Guillory will play in his first game tomorrow night since that terrifying moment.

And in a huge dose of irony, that game is at McMahon Stadium, as the Esks play the Stampeders to open the pre-season schedule - just like last year.

"That is crazy," said Guillory. "Where I stopped at is where I am going to pick it up at."

SPINAL CORD INJURY

After making nearly 30 doctor visits in the last year, the 24-year-old import finally received clearance to participate in contact practice drills 13 days ago.

There might have been some rust on Day 1 of training camp, but there doesn't appear to be much right now.

Guillory is fighting for a starting defensive end spot with Fred Perry virtually guaranteed the other spot.

Before the injury last year, the Louisiana native was considered a bright prospect for the Green and Gold. In three games during his 2006 rookie season, he had three sacks.

But insiders surrounding the Eskimos camp thought the chances of Guillory ever playing another game after his spinal cord contusion were slim and none.

He spent the entire 2007 regular-season on the injured list. He was allowed to run but there wasn't a doctor that would clear him for contact drills.

But from the moment a doctor in Calgary on the night of the freak injury told him he might not play again, Guillory had the determination he needed.

"Right then and there that pumped me up - like OK, this is my time to prove something to everybody," he remembered.

Edmonton's offensive line has certainly tested Guillory's six-foot-four frame during training camp.

"Got some clotheslines, face-mask grabbing and everything," said Guillory, who has survived every bit of abuse. "It is wonderful. It is going real good - (my) legs are underneath me."

ATHLETIC DISPLAY

The athletic display is definitely being noticed by his teammates as they prepare for the first game of 2008.

"He looks fantastic," said receiver Kamau Peterson.

"That is a tremendous amount of dedication and passion for the game that he was able to commit to rehabbing and do everything he needed to do to get back on the field in that time frame.

"It is really inspiring."

Anybody who plays football knows how close Guillory came to leaving his career behind at McMahon Stadium last spring.

When it comes to spinal cord injuries, a player can be left paralysed if the blow is delivered in the wrong spot - inches from where a harmless blow can land.

"They say we are all out here (on the field) on borrowed time," continued Peterson.

"You never know when it will end. He got a closer scare than a lot of us will hopefully ever get."


Videos

Photos