Senior DB out for year after surgery

Senior DB out for year after surgery

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Article from the Deseret Morning NewsPROVO — BYU's defensive secondary took a hit Thursday when coach Bronco Mendenhall announced that senior safety Dustin Gabriel will undergo surgery that will force him to be sidelined for the 2007 season.

Gabriel, who has battled a host of injuries during his Cougar career, had been limited in his participation in fall camp because of injuries to both of his feet. The decision to undergo surgery on both feet was made after Gabriel met with doctors Thursday morning.

"His pain tolerance and the damage it's done, have left all involved to think it's best for him to have surgery," Mendenhall said. "He's having a difficult time right now, as we all are with some of the finality. We didn't think this would happen. We thought we would be able to use different injections and pain methodology to get him through this year, but that's not going to be the case."

The school will appeal to the NCAA for him to receive another season of eligibility under the medical hardship program. "I never know what those chances are and I don't know how it will play out," Mendenhall said. After surgery, Gabriel will undergo rehabilitation and continue attending team meetings "and prepare like he'll be back next year," Mendenhall said.

Gabriel will likely be wheelchair-bound for a while following surgery. He also has a finger that needs surgery, according to Mendenhall.

"He's one of the toughest players I've ever been around," Mendenhall said. "It's reached the point where he needs to have (surgery) done."

Last season, Gabriel started all 13 games at safety, recording 37 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recover and a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win against San Diego State. He started 10 games as a sophomore in 2005.

In Gabriel's absence, senior David Tafuna and senior Corby Hodgkiss will battle for the starting safety job.

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