Winona State’s Pridgeon setting high-character example

Redshirt Senior bouncing back from ACL in big way

Warrior football can describe redshirt senior linebacker Nick Pridgeon in many ways.

“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever met,” quarterback Owen Burke said.

“He’s a lead-by-example guy,” defensive lineman Michael Gomez said.

“He’s a poster boy for a college football athlete,” head coach Tom Sawyer said.

A Criminal Justice major, a student government rep, an NFL prospect. You ask everyone around him and they say the sky’s the limit. But early last season, that bright future hit a road block.

“I was diagnosed with a hip impingement,” Pridgeon said. “Doctors said I could play on it; it would just be a little painful. And then the second game of the season I tore my ACL. It didn’t feel real. Everything from that day was like a blur.”

Pridgeon had surgery on both his knee and hip, and after a long rehab process, he’s come back in a big way, leading the team with 51 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He said things on the field have gone back to normal since his return in the preseason, but the injuries can still be on his mind.

“Sometimes still to this day I’ll wonder what if that injury happens again, but there’s nothing I can do to control that. I just have to go out and play my heart out,” Pridgeon said.

His team said it’s not just his individual production that makes him special. It’s his leadership that will have a lasting impact.

“He’s a three-time captain for me, the first one I’ve ever had,” Sawyer said. “He’s like a coach on the field, because he’s got a freshman on one side of him and a sophomore on the other. He’s truly like a father out there.”

Said Gomez, “Obviously his physical stature and his skills help a lot, but his character is something that you can’t teach.”

At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, Pridgeon has played both inside and outside linebacker this season for the Warriors, who have a battle with Augustana this Saturday.

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