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Blame Lakeland for Chris Rainey's bum shoulder

Because Lakeland doesn't hate me enough already ... it's the Dreadnaughts' fault Florida running back Chris Rainey's season is over. Rainey will have shoulder surgery soon, Florida coach Urban Meyer told reporters on Sunday. "He had an unstable shoulder when he arrived at Florida," Meyer said.

This is how it happened...

GAINESVILLE -- Guess they don't care much for the kid's future. That was my initial reaction when Lakeland's coaching staff made the decision to leave its star running back, Chris Rainey, in last season's Class 5A state championship despite an obvious shoulder injury.

Rainey Rainey, who finished the game with 276 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns, told reporters after the game that he played the end of the fourth quarter and two overtimes with a dislocated shoulder. I'm no doctor but playing football with a dislocated shoulder doesn't sound like the best idea. You know those injuries you hear about that can't get any worse if the athlete continues to play? Just as long as the player can take the pain, he'll be fine. A dislocated shoulder is not one of those injuries.

Castle3webSo blame Lakeland for Rainey's chronic shoulder problems. And blame Lakeland if Rainey doesn't ever reach his full potential at Florida. Guess that's the price you've got to pay when you want to win three state championships in a row. (As if two wasn't enough.) Of course, Lakeland coach Bill Castle (pictured) isn't paying that price today. He's only reaping the rewards. Was it worth it, Bill? Of course, that's a silly question. Knowing you, I'm sure that question has never even popped into your mind.

How else can you explain allowing a 5-foot-6, 150-pound running back to shoulder the load of your offense for an entire season when you already knew that little guy had a big problem with his shoulder? Rainey had his first shoulder surgery BEFORE his senior season at Lakeland. He missed the spring game and didn't play in a kickoff classic.

Skipping ahead to the 2006 playoffs...

"His shoulder, it kind of turned out on him a little bit, so we had to pop it back in," Castle told the Tampa Tribune after Lakeland's first-round playoff game.

Note to Castle: Sitting Rainey for the rest of the playoffs was the biggest decision you had to make in 2006. And you blew it, pal. You jeopardized a young man's future to win a few stupid high school football games. Rainey, of course, wasn't going to tell his coaches that he couldn't play. No chance. Just about the only thing bigger than Chris Rainey's charismatic personality and infection smile is his love for football. Giving Rainey the choice to either play football or sit out is like asking a magnet to refuse metal.

That's why you're going to shake your head in disbelief at the number of times Rainey carried the ball after he dislocated his shoulder in that first-round contest.

Round 2: Rainey rushed for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

Round 3: Rainey rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries.

Round 4: Rainey rushed for 326 yards on 22 carries.

Round 5: Rainey rushed for 276 yards on 26 carries.

Rainey finished his senior season with 2,439 yards. Too bad he might never carry a football again. Don't scoff. That might turn out to be true. No matter how many times you sew a shoulder back together after a dislocation it's never quite the same and always susceptible to another dislocation. And that's the case for Everyday Joe on the Street. The odds of reinjuring your shoulder probably go up a few MILLION percentage points when you're a running back in the Southeastern Conference.

Is Meyer, like Castle, going to put Rainey in a position to injure his shoulder even more? Don't count on it. Rainey's days of carrying the football are over at Florida. Look for him to make the switch to cornerback next season after he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Rainey met with defensive coaches during the preseason to talk about the switch and, according to Florida assistant Charlie Strong, Rainey even practiced with the defense a few times before the season started.

Moving Rainey to cornerback is in the best interest of both Rainey and Florida.



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