By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa defensive back Brandon Snyder defied the odds by returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in less than six months.
His return came with a heavy price, though, the extent of which was revealed on Tuesday when Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Snyder would miss the rest of the season after reinjuring his knee.
It is unclear when exactly the second injury occurred, but Snyder hasn’t played since the Illinois game on Oct. 7 when he started at free safety. That is the only game in which Snyder has played this season.
“Brandon Snyder will be getting surgery this week,” Ferentz said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “He's going to be off the field, obviously. We'll look forward to getting him rehabbed and get him back for next season. But it's an unfortunate twist, and Brandon will not be coming back.”
Snyder suffered his first knee injury in spring practice in April. He was considered a long shot to play this season, but then surprised everybody by receiving medical clearance less than six months after the injury had occurred.
Snyder started at free safety against Illinois and helped to shift the momentum in the game by returning an interception 89 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of Iowa’s 45-16 victory at Kinnick Stadium.
Ferentz said the following Tuesday after the Illinois game that Snyder would be out for an undetermined amount of time for what was described as normal wear and tear related to the injury.
Snyder now faces another long recovery process, but Ferentz is optimist that Snyder will be healthy and ready for his senior season.
It could be perceived that Snyder came back too soon from the first injury, but he had been cleared by Iowa’s medical staff.
“There's risk in everything we do,” Ferentz said. “I think I mentioned this a while ago, I had questions months ago about it, what would the layout be, and I learned a lot, I got educated. We have an excellent medical staff here, but those guys don't live in a closet. They talk with people that have a lot of expertise in that area, and people come to us for advice, too.
“I think everybody was very comfortable, the family, Brandon, us as coaches with what the facts were, what the odds are — I think we all felt he made the right move coming back. We were very conservative with his return, based on what he had tested and how he had passed through all the protocol. So it's one of those things that happened, and we'll go on to the next step, and I have total confidence when June comes around he'll be full speed and we'll have one hungry player and one very smart player and one very talented player on our hands, so that's a good thing.”
Snyder was redshirted as a true freshman in 2014 and will be a fifth-year senior next season. So it is unlikely that he would qualify for a medical redshirt, Ferentz said Tuesday.
"I don't know if we can," Ferentz said. "He played in the Illinois game. He already took a redshirt already on top. We'll try it, but I'm not optimistic there."
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound Snyder started all 13 games at free safety as a sophomore in 2016 after coming to Iowa as a walk-on.
Junior Jake Gervase, who also came to Iowa as a walk-on, is now the starter at free safety heading into Saturday's game at sixth-ranked Wisconsin.