MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia returns in earnest to practice Saturday in advance of the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl against North Carolina State expecting its coaching staff to be in tact and hoping the same can be said of the defensive backfield.
Despite a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, senior cornerback Brandon Hogan is still a possibility for the game at the Citrus Bowl, in Orlando, Fla.
Head football trainer Dave Kerns lined up treatment for Hogan through the past week with hopes swelling would dissipate and the knee would regain a full range of motion. Hogan, second-team all Big-East, suffered what is technically a third degree sprain against Rutgers Dec. 4. He was cautioned against running or anything overly aggressive.
Kerns said light jogging would be the first test this weekend and then, if possible, Hogan would move on to running.
"He needs to progress at a fast pace," Kerns said. "Then, we progress to change of direction and skill-specific movements. Can that all happen by the 28th? I don't know how that'll play out, so we'll keep treating and evaluating every day to see if there's a change."
If Hogan can't jog without pain this weekend, Kerns said it is "more than likely he's not going to play.
"He needs to progress and there needs to be time there in between. If he doesn't do step one Saturday or Sunday, he won't have as much time to progress from there and reach a point where we can say he's able to play."
Kerns said players can play with a torn ACL, and that if Hogan progresses adequately he could perform at a reasonable level and do many of the things required of his position.
Ultimately, though, surgery could be necessary, as well as six to nine months of recovery. That would overlap combines and workouts for the NFL Draft in April, but perhaps allow him to participate in rookie camps, the preseason and regular season.
"At what point in time will that be decided? If next week we decide he can't play, surgery could be imminent sooner rather than later," Kerns said.
"If we decide he can participate on the 28th, then the decision is his.
"If he can play at 80-percent effective, to get the other 20 percent to be effective to the NFL or whatever level beyond college football, he may require surgery."