Hens’ Tinsley pushing aside the pain

 

Defensive tackle David Tinsley looks to make a play in last year’s season opener at Pitt. He was lost for the year after injuring his arm again later in the game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Defensive tackle David Tinsley looks to make a play in last year’s season opener at Pitt. He was lost for the year after injuring his arm again later in the game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — One by one, David Tinsley points out the scars on his massive arms.

They run north and south on the inside of his two elbows — there’s three in all, two on his left arm and one on his right.

And each one of the scars has their own story behind it, their own surgery, their own rehab drudgery that’s gotten Tinsley back on the football field each time.

“This is the first one, then the second surgery and this is the one from September,” said Tinsley as he goes through the progression of his scars.

“Every time you have surgery, my mom gets nervous,” he continued. “But for me, it’s just like, all right, I know what the protocol is, I’ve done this before. I know what to expect. It was fine with me.”

If Tinsley tears a muscle in his bicep again, he knows that will be it for his football career. But, for now, the Delaware fifth senior is just happy to be back on the practice field again, going through the routine of preseason drills with the rest of the Blue Hens.

Considering that it looked like the 6-foot-1, 285-pounder’s career might have ended when he tore his right bicep in Delaware’s season opener at Pittsburgh last year, Tinsley will take it.

“Practice started at 3, I was out here at 2:40 just kind of taking it all in,” Tinsley said after the Hens’ first practice session on Saturday afternoon. “There was a point last year after the Pitt game where you just kind of sit back and say, ‘This is the third time, what’s going to happen?’

“I’m taking it day by day and just having fun.”

No one would have blamed Tinsley if he had walked away from football, of course.

He was honored with the other players from his class on Senior Day last season. He’s earned his degree in marketing and management as well.

But, on a roster that has just eight seniors, the Hens are pretty happy to have a veteran like Tinsley still around.

“I love ‘Tins’ — we all love Tins,” said fellow senior defensive lineman Vince Hollerman. “He’s a very passionate guy. We love that about him. We love how great he is as a football player and as a person. We just need his voice out here.

“There’s no many of us (seniors) so we need another voice.”

Going into camp, Tinsley is penciled in as the starting left defensive end. He’s only started once in his career while playing in 20 games.

Coach Dave Brock knows Tinsley cleared one major hurdle by returning from surgery to play in spring ball. Now he has to get through the rigors of camp before the real action starts when the Hens host Jacksonville on Sept. 4.

“He’s fought through an immense amount of adversity,” said Brock. I’m really excited for his opportunity. But, like anything, you get through the drudgery of camp and get to the games and we’ll see.

“He adds an incredible amount of leadership and character and all the intangible things. And he’s a really good player, he just hasn’t played. I want it so bad for him.”

Getting one more chance to play the game he loves is more than some guys get.

Tinsley will take it.

“You have your doubts early on,” he said about going through rehab again. “You’re like, ‘Oh man, this happened again.’

“But as a student-athlete, as a football player, you always have that desire to get out here and play. I always told myself, if I was healthy and there was no potential that I was going to hurt myself again, I was going to play.”

Extra points

Brock is especially excited about the future of some of Delaware’s young defensive backs, a group that includes safeties Jamie Jarmon (Indian River) and Ray Jones (Hodgson). “In shorts and no pads, those guys jump off the practice (field) today,” Brock said on Saturday. “They’re fast, they close space, they’re really athletic, they’re long. … when you look at those guys, that’s what you want to see.” … The Hens’ incoming freshman quarterback, Pat Kehoe, is a left-handed passer. The Connecticut native’s twin brother, M.J., is also in camp as an offensive lineman. … Polytech High grad Derek Reigle, a 6-foot-5, 295-pounder, is on the roster as a walk-on.

 

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