Penn State trailed Maryland 35-7 in the third quarter when offensive lineman Juice Scruggs entered the game. And finally, the Lions had reason to smile.
"It may have seemed that a lot of things went wrong, but we still had some positives," Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson said. "And that was a huge one."
Scruggs, a redshirt sophomore, played Saturday for the first time in nearly two years, taking snaps at guard against the Terps. The game marked Scruggs' triumphant return from a 2019 car accident that caused a severe back injury, forced him to wear a back brace for eight months and required a long road of rehab.
Scruggs called being back on the field "definitely a crazy moment." It was the second game of Scruggs' career at Penn State and first since he made his debut against Maryland in November 2018.
"I'm definitely still not where I want to be," Scruggs said. "Nowhere near; I have a long, long road to go. I have a lot of things to work on. ... And I'm going to continue to work at it. I'm going to get better as we go on."
Afterward, Scruggs shared the moment with his parents, Karen and Frederick. It was the first time Frederick Scruggs saw his son play in person since the 2017 PIAA Class 4A championship game, which Scruggs' Erie Cathedral Prep team won.
"As soon as I saw my mom, she hugged me for like 10 minutes," Scruggs said. "And she wouldn't let me go."
Scruggs said he played with nerves but without pain, an important point in his return. He also said his back is "completely fine," signaling that Scruggs could see more playing time this season.
"I saw how much he wanted to work to get back on the football field," Dotson said after the game. "And I couldn't be more proud of him. Seeing him back on the field, that's amazing."
Penn State coach James Franklin said he mentioned the impact of Scruggs' return at practice this week, noting how "cool" it was to see the lineman play again.
"It's pretty amazing that that young man is back and going to be able to play and play at a high level," Franklin said.
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