Jared Tevis felt his foot give and his ankle roll, both lying flat against the Arizona Stadium turf. His left leg stung as blood rushed to the affected area.
Tevis feared the worst.
"I didn't even want to look down," he said. "But when I did look down, it wasn't displaced. I didn't see any bones coming out. I thought, 'OK, that's a good sign.'"
Tevis has spent the last month and four days trying to repair the damage done when he suffered a severe ankle sprain in the Wildcats' Sept. 29 loss to Oregon State. The sophomore safety isn't all the way back yet, but he's getting there. Tevis played in last weekend's 39-36 win over USC without feeling any ill effects; he'll start at the "Bandit" position Saturday, when 24th-ranked UA (5-3 overall, 2-3 Pac-12) takes on UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
Coach Rich Rodriguez said he's happy to have the Canyon del Oro High School graduate back "because he's a good football player."
Despite missing two starts - and the better part of three games - because of the injury, Tevis ranks fifth on the team with 45 tackles. He has two interceptions and five PBUs, and has forced three fumbles.
More importantly, he's served as a de facto captain on a defense filled with undersized, inexperienced players.
"The nice part about Jared is that before the injury and certainly since he's been back, he's one of the guys in the secondary that helps get guys lined up," Rodriguez said. "He's a smart, instinctive football player. He and (linebacker) Jake Fischer are probably the two guys who truly understand the scheme better than everyone, so that's a big help."
And Tevis and the Wildcats have, so far, dodged a huge bullet. Tevis' injury looked bad.
"Shoot, it wasn't broke," Rodriguez said. "It was just sprained."
The Star talked to Tevis about his injury, recovery and future:
What was it like to get back on the field Saturday?
A: "It was exciting to get out there with my brothers again. I've been waiting for what seems like a year. It felt good to be back out there with them."
How much did you play? How'd your ankle hold up?
A: "Most of the game. I didn't check exactly, but probably about 50 plays. My ankle, it felt good. No swelling or anything afterwards."
What was rehab like? What'd you do?
A: "Mostly it was watching film, praying and helping out 'Peanut' (Patrick Onwuasor) and some of the backups who were playing for me. I was just trying to help them out as much as I could. During that time, I was just living in the training room - I still am, trying to get to 100 percent."
How do you rehab your ankle now?
A: "We do a lot of treatment on it. At the same time, we're starting to pick up on rehab and get the mobility back."
Did you know the injury was a bad one when it happened?
A: "Oh yeah. I knew it was going to keep me out for a little, just with all the pain I was in. It could've been worse."
But you tried to come back on the field later in the same game. That's not normal …
"I had to try, man. I had to give it a shot. I just went out there and tried to get them to go again. At that point, I realized I probably couldn't."
Did the injury change your priorities at all? Given how far you came to crack the starting lineup, it must have been a bummer.
A: "I had a lot of things running through my mind. It really gave me a chance to step back and get refocused, though. It was a blessing, though. I forgot about everything, no offense to the media and everything, but focusing on helping my team win. I got off Twitter and Facebook. I'm on it again, but I don't use it as much as I used to."
Did the prayer work? Are you allowed to pray for a healthier ankle?
A: "Yep, I think so, man. I think it's been helping, so I'm not going to mess with it."
On StarNet: Go to live.azstarnet.com to read a transcript of Ryan Finley's Q&A Thursday with readers and to join a live fan chat during the game against UCLA on Saturday.
The Rodriguez Report
UA coach Rich Rodriguez's injury report and team captains for this week's game:
• Out: DE Dominique Austin (foot, out for season), WR Terrence Miller (ankle)
• Doubtful: None
• Questionable: DE Kirifi Taula (shoulder), DE/FB Taimi Tutogi (neck)
• Probable: C Kyle Quinn (ankle)
• Week 9: WR Dan Buckner, TE Drew Robinson, OG Trace Biskin, LB Jake Fischer.
• Who: No. 24 Arizona (5-3, 2-3) at No. 25 UCLA (6-2, 3-2)
• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Pac-12 Network.
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM