By ANDY WOLF
Not many athletes get to rewrite the ending to their collegiate career.
Chauncey Bridges did.
The University of Findlay senior running back lost much of his thought-to-be senior year due to a spinal injury.
He presumed his last snaps were taking the final two knees in UF’s blowout win on senior day.
“If you watch the clips, you can actually hear it in my voice,” he said. “I couldn’t even get the (snap cadence) words out. That’s how emotional I was.”
Bridges persisted and, with a full bill of health, was allowed another year of playing time.
He’s one of 20 UF seniors playing their final home game against Malone at 1 p.m. Saturday at Donnell Stadium.
The whole experience of prepackaged emotions of last year’s senior day allowed him to reflect on his past four years from the sidelines.
“I believe I did some really great things here,” Bridges said. “I had a really great career. At the time, thinking my career was over, I was able to spend time with my brothers.”
He’s since treated every day back on the field knowing the game wasn’t promised to him.
“I understood the game can be taken away at any time so you’ve got to enjoy every second of it,” he said.
Bridges burst onto the scene as a freshman at UF.
He rushed for 114 yards in his second career game in a win over Tiffin.
Bridges finished with 643 yards in 2014, 491 more as a sophomore before churning out 1,229 yards and eight touchdowns as the feature back his junior year.
Two games into his senior year, Bridges was initially diagnosed with congenital spinal stenosis.
“Your spinal column is basically squeezing your spinal cord,” Bridges said.
He went through multiple physicians and received a second diagnosis of a herniated disc likely to resolve itself in a few months.
By the last week of spring, Bridges was cleared.
The initial nerves quickly dissipated as he received his first handoff in over six months during a team scrimmage.
“Everything fell back into place and felt right again,” Bridges said.
He’s since been in the thick of UF’s stable of running backs and as productive as before.
His 43.4 yards per game and three touchdowns rank third on the team.
Bridges, a career 5.5 yards per carry guy, is averaging 6.0 ypg for the first time.
“A running back’s job is never done,” he said. “I’ll never be satisfied, but am I upset about my production? No. I’m always trying to do better.”
Not too long ago, Bridges was an upstart back learning from an All-American in Daiquone Ford.
Ford set the UF single-game (317) rushing mark a year before Bridges.
Bridges is now the only senior active in the backfield.
Fellow senior and original starter Michael Campbell (870 yards, 2017) was moved to corner back three games in.
Boston College transfer and junior Richard Wilson (57.4 ypg) has put up two 100-yard games and nine touchdowns.
Sophomore Brian Benson leads UF at 92.8 ypg and 12 touchdowns.
His 494 yards and six scores in the past two weeks account for half his production.
Bridges talks to Benson and the other younger backs to pass on the knowledge he’s gained.
“I didn’t realize how interested they were and to know the things that I’ve been accustomed to,” he said. ” “¦ If you look at our history, we have a great running back history so we want to keep that going.