Belle Vernon’s Callaway rehabbing from knee injury as he prepares to play at Dayton

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 | 5:36 PM

It wasn’t long ago Larry Callaway questioned if he would play football again.

A multi-sport athlete who also excelled on the basketball court at Belle Vernon, Callaway was less than a week into his senior basketball season when it came to a sudden end.

Early in the fourth quarter of a Dec. 9 nonsection game against Washington, Callaway drove to the hoop before suffering what later was diagnosed as ACL, MCL and meniscus tears in his right knee.

Callaway knew his senior season was in jeopardy. But that wasn’t the worst of his fears.

“As soon as I hit the floor, I put my hands over my face, and the only thing I thought about was football and if this injury would seriously impact my future,” Callaway said.

After learning the significance of the injury a few days later, Callaway said he was given an eight- to 12-month timetable for a full recovery. He underwent surgery to have his ACL and meniscus repaired Feb. 13.

“That doesn’t stop me from working out now,” he said. “I’m feeling great now, and I’m working harder than ever before because I know that’s what it takes to come back even stronger from an injury like this.”

Despite the long road to recovery that lies ahead, Callaway has a football scholarship that serves as light at the end of the tunnel.

The standout running back, who signed to play at Robert Morris in early February, announced via his Twitter account last weekend he decided to change his commitment to Dayton.

“This means everything to me because it is a direct reflection of all the hard work you and your teammates put in throughout your high school career,” Callaway said. “Dayton is an awesome place with a great staff, and I couldn’t be happier with the opportunity I was given.

“Dayton is a great program and so is RMU. You really can’t go wrong with either program. After long discussions with my family, we ultimately found that Dayton was the place for me and my future endeavors.”

Callaway had six total scholarship offersIn addition to Dayton and RMU, he also received offers from Division II programs Alderson Broaddus, Cal (Pa.), Gannon and IUP.

“A ton of schools refrained from recruiting me after my knee injury,” Callaway said. “I’ll forever be grateful for the schools that didn’t look at my knee as an issue.”

At Dayton, Callaway will play for veteran coach Rick Chamberlain, who led the Flyers to an 8-3 record, 6-2 in the Pioneer Football League last season. Callaway said he expects to be a factor at running back, but he is willing to play anywhere he is needed.

“I feel like I can bring a ton of athleticism and an even better attitude to the locker room,” Callaway said. “I’m willing to play anywhere on the field, even if it’s on the defensive side. I’m looking forward to the whole experience.”

If Callaway’s high school career is any indication, he could be primed for a special four years.

After carrying the ball 88 times for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns while sharing time in the backfield as a junior with Mason Pascoe, Callaway received a large share of the carries this past season. He finished with a team-high 144 carries for 1,046 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry while helping to lead Belle Vernon Area to the WPIAL championship game for the first time since 1999.

Callaway is prepared for the next level, he said, thanks in part to the guidance of the Leopards coaching staff, led by coach Matt Humbert.

“My relationship with coach Humbert and every valuable lesson he has taught me will help me immensely in college,” Callaway said. “He has taught me discipline on and off the field, and I feel that’s the most valuable characteristic you can have. That will help me during my time in college.”

If there is anything Callaway has learned over the past few months, it is nothing is guaranteed.

He s had to work for opportunities to get on the field and has had to battle adversity to get the opportunity to play at the next level. Now, he is determined to continue battling adversity, get healthy and realize his dream at Dayton.

“This injury changed my perspective on life more than anything,” Callaway said. “Us athletes are blessed to be healthy enough to play the sports we love, and injuries like this teach you not to take anything for granted.

“Football was my first true love, and if I could play the game until I’m 70 years old, I wouldn’t hesitate.”


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