Most NFL players don't really care for training camp. Two a days, sleeping in dorm rooms, playing games that don't mean anything. But every day Torell Troup wakes up at Bills training camp at St. John Fisher, he has a big smile on his face.
Doug Marrone could probably call for three practices in the same day, starting at day break and Troup might still have that smile on his face. When you think your NFL career is over after 21 games and you will never be able to play the game again, it has a way of changing your daily approach.
The 6-3, 327 pound Troup was facing an early retirement a little less than two years ago after undergoing back surgery. The Bills second round pick in the 2010 draft sustained a fracture in his lower spine and a herniated disc during an injury shortened 2011 season. He underwent back surgery in December of that year and was horrified by thoughts he'd never put on the pads again.
"I started rehab a week after my surgery and honestly I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to do this again" Troup said. "When I got out of surgery, that hardest thing for me to do was when they wanted me to get up and walk 50 feet. I tell you, I struggled so much to walk 50 feet, it was just going through my head ‘am I going to be able to get back and play football’? The doctor told me I would never be back to 100% where I used to be but I’ve worked really hard to get as close as I can."
Troup was back at Bills training camp in 2012 but was limited in practice and did mostly individual work. The pain was too much and his back couldn't hold up to the physical demands of the job so Troup was placed on season ending injured reserve on August 23rd. He was around the team during the season but admittedly felt like an outsider.
"Its like I’m a ghost sitting in the room. Its hard not being able to be with your teammates" Troup said during an interview on WGR. "The guys are going through things and you cant really do anything to help. You just have to sit there and watch. Ive been going crazy this year and a half, just dealing with rehab and not being able to be here with the team. Its been really hard."
Troup credits his parents and his girlfriend for helping him get through the long, painful rehab process and for keeping him motivated on a daily basis. Troup also has a new found appreciation for the sport he loves, even during the dog days of training camp.
"Honestly, I definitely do" the Conyers, Georgia native said. "I didn’t think I’d ever be out here again so to be able to come out here, run around and hit guys is a blessing and I wake up every day with a smile on my face."
Troup says he feels good and the back hasn't given him any problems through the first week of camp. He's been attacking on plays and taking on double teams while not even thinking about the injury.
Troup is on the verge of getting his degree from the University of Central Florida. He took his last final exam this past Friday and is awaiting the results. Troup majored in Inter-disciplinary studies with a minor in Communication. He plans to go back for additional schooling and eventually pursue a career in advertising.
You can listen to the entire interview with Torell Troup: