HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- In John Bruhin's mind, he's ready to rejoin his Marshall teammates on the football field. Now if his mind could just convince his body of the same thing.
It's not that the sixth-year guard doesn't want to be in the Thundering Herd's starting lineup. But he's had to stay on the sidelines the last two games because of a twisted ankle.
He twisted it first against Central Florida and missed Marshall's win over Memphis. Then he twisted it again in practice before the Herd's loss to UAB.
But with Marshall (4-6, 3-3 Conference USA) needing to win out to reach its second consecutive bowl game, it will probably take the rest of the Herd's offensive line to hold him back from playing in the home finale against Houston (4-6, 3-3) at noon Saturday (CSS telecast).
"You don't want to go through it and make it worse for upcoming games," Bruhin said, "but I'm at the point where it's two games left and there is no 'Let's wait to see how it feels.' "
Add the ankle to the litany of bangs, bumps, bruises and surgeries that have elongated his Marshall career. On top of the bum ankle and the bruised sternum that forced him to miss three starts this year, there was the previous shoulder surgery and the back issues that put him under the scalpel and caused him to miss the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
He also dealt with personal loss when his older brother Zane, a former Marshall offensive lineman himself, died in January 2008 at age 21.
Yet those hard times have molded Bruhin into the veteran, the leader and the offensive captain he is today. After starting 12 games at right guard last season, he's started seven there this season.
"I've just become a fighter," he said. "Every time you get knocked down, you just have to get back up and just keep going every day. Get out of bed and just know you have to keep working. That's what I've been doing for six years I've been here and that's the only thing I really know how to do."
Bruhin's teammates respect and admire his resiliency and work ethic. Center Chris Jasperse, who has lined up beside Bruhin for every start Bruhin has made this year, said that despite the long list of injuries, Bruhin is a dependable, knowledgeable, essential teammate.