Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk could barely believe what had happened.
In the fourth game of the 2017 season, three of Bednarczyk's teammates went down with season-ending knee injuries.
He couldn't imagine how they were going to deal with sitting out the rest of the season.
A week later, Bednarczyk didn't have to wonder anymore. In the second half of a game against Towson, Bednarczyk had his knee rolled into by a defender and would join his teammates in the rehabilitation of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"It was the first real injury in my career," said Bednarczyk, who had passed for 1,063 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions before he got hurt. "I'd been banged up before, but everybody has.
"This was the first injury that ended a season. I will say that it has made me a stronger player and person. Mentally, it was tough going to rehab each day."
The training room at Villanova became a group therapy center as several Wildcats worked to overcome serious injuries.
"All you heard was people screaming," said Bednarczyk, who started 13 games as a sophomore and five as a junior. "If I wasn't screaming, it was somebody else.
"The first two or three weeks were miserable, but once you got past that, over that hump – it was good to see progress. You learn to appreciate being able to walk with a healthy knee."
From a football standpoint, Bednarczyk, who as a redshirt freshman in 2015 was the Colonial Athletic Association co-offensive rookie of the year, said he took a huge step forward by being able to go through a full work routine during spring practice.
"It's all good – 100 percent," the native of Wallington, N.J., said. "I was on the fence because I wasn't sure if I would be able to go full out. To get team reps was big. I'm happy my knee let me do that."
Losing a veteran starting quarterback is a blow to any team, and Villanova coach Mark Ferrante said he is glad to have Bednarczyk back as the Wildcats look to rebound from a 5-6 season.
"In the years that we have done well, our quarterback has played well," Ferrante said. "In the years when we didn't do as well as we hoped, we've had a quarterback who didn't play to the level we expected or he got hurt like [Bednarczyk] did last year.
"Having [Bednarczyk] back is critical and we're excited for him to have a phenomenal year."