Bundrage plans to use recovery as time to develop leadership

Alex Gookin

Quenton Bundrage was engaged on a defender on an Aaron Wimberly run when he heard a pop. What looked like just a slight tweak brought Bundrage to the ground in pain.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, [but] I was sure that it hurt really bad,” Bundrage said. “I was able to get up on my own power and walk off, so I didn’t think it was an ACL injury.”

Coach Paul Rhoads delivered the news that Bundrage would be out for the season two days later and all the talk of a record-breaking season and first-team Big 12 went out the window.

“Quenton Bundrage was a very big part of our offense, and he took it hard as you would expect him to,” Rhoads said. “[He was] really looking forward to not only a big-play season, but a very consistent season for himself.”

Bundrage was predictably upset, but after reading messages of support from fans and players including Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters, he found a new outlook. Instead of dwelling on the injury, he plans to use it as fuel to become a better leader. 

“Now, I feel like I have to be more of a leader than I was before,” Bundrage said. “I’m not out there running routes, so me being vocal helps a lot.”

It was something he got a taste of in the North Dakota State game as the team fell behind while he watched from the sidelines. Not able to contribute on the field, Bundrage didn’t feel sorry for himself but instead became more vocal.

He said he is receiving support from people he doesn’t even know and that it has helped him already in focusing more on recovery.

“It goes to show you how big this community is and what type of people we have here in Ames and who cares about you,” Bundrage said.

This week, he is going through “pre-hab” by trying to get some movement back in his knee as well as reduce some swelling. Once the swelling goes down, he will have surgery.

With the injury so early in the season, Bundrage would be a candidate for a hardship waiver — also known as a medical redshirt — to gain an extra year of eligibility lost during this season. 

Whether or not Bundrage will apply for one, he didn’t say, but his message was pretty clear. 

“I’ll say this: It wouldn’t hurt to get a medical redshirt.”

Redshirt or not, Bundrage said he is ready for what would currently be his senior season. He said he’s seen others come back from ACL injuries and with his focus this season on becoming a stronger leader from the bench, he is confident in his abilities.

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I will come back next season and be the same person, if not better,” Bundrage said.