Kyle Scales, a senior running back at Greater Atlanta Christian. Scales is enjoying a very good start to GAC's football season.
NORCROSS -- When Kyle Scales took the first hit this season, he landed and realized the world didn't stop. He popped up, bounded back to the huddle and started playing football.
That's how seasons begin for most players every year, except for Scales the return came with a bit more anticipation.
The senior GAC running back tore his anterior cruciate ligament late last season, missing the final three weeks and the playoffs after having surgery. The pain of watching from the sidelines matched the pain Scales felt pulsing in his knee.
"It was definitely a struggle that I had to face. An adversity," Scales said. "I had to push really, really hard. Constant workouts, constant stretching, trying to get it back to where is used to be."
He missed spring workouts and was limited in summer and for much of the fall, forcing him to be patient as he tried to learn and adjust to the new GAC coaching staff.
"We were able to unleash him really for the first time in that first game," said first-year GAC head coach Tim Hardy "We are just getting to know him, but he's a special player."
Scales, quiet for a senior running back, kept telling himself before that first kickoff he wasn't nervous. He had practiced enough. He re-learned how to run. He had made the cuts, stopped quickly, even been tackled. But the questions lingered until that first hit.
"I was nervous. I was telling myself I wasn't nervous, but in the back of my mind I knew I was nervous," he said. "As soon as I got tackled the first time I was ready to run. I hopped up, ran again and was ready to go."
Was he ever.
In that game, Scales rushed for 131 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. That's plenty of tackles to remember football and forget about his knee. For the season, Scales has 571 yards on 101 carries and at team-best 10 touchdowns.
"He has a great feel for running the football," Hardy said. "He's got excellent vision and has great patience. It's very hard to get a square shot on him. He just has an ability to slide to the side and slip through the crack and he always falls forward. Just what you want in a running back."
From just tape, Hardy said he was confident in Scales' ability to contribute in the new offense, certain the knee wouldn't be a factor.
For Scales, he took a cautious approach to his third head coach in his four years at GAC.
"When (Hardy) first came and I didn't know much about him and it's my third head coach in four years, in my mind I was thinking, 'How can I get this year over with and go to college and just play?'" Scales said. "But ever since (Hardy) came here it's actually been a blessing. I am actually really excited that he's here. He's done a really good job with our team."
Scales said he's as comfortable talking with his coach now as he is cutting on his surgically-repaired knee. He trusts the coaching staff's plans and wants to help be a part of building on the historic success at GAC.
"The year that everyone thought we didn't have anyone, he's come and for me, putting all the seniors as leaders. He helped us become more of a leader because we know the players better than the coaches do. He's really shown me the way of being leader."
Scales quickly doles out credit for his success to his teammates, specifically his offensive linemen.
"I've had a lot of help from my teammates, a lot of support from my teammates and family knowing I could come off this injury," Scales said. "Most of the credit has to go to my line though. Without them, I can't take on 11 guys by myself."
But he can overcome anything. A carousel of coaches and a knee injury will teach you that.
The Scales File
Who: Kyle Scales
Favorite athlete: Marcus Lattimore
Favorite movie: "Remember the Titans"
Dream job: Aeronautical engineer
• Leads Spartans with 571 yards rushing and 10 rushing TDs
• Returning from ACL tear Oct. 20 against Buford
• Looking to play Division I football