Greg Dortch, a Wake Forest wide receiver/returner who starred at Highland Springs, was named first-team all-ACC as an all-purpose and specialist player, and was honored with the Brian Piccolo Award for Courage after coming back from an injury where his small intestines were punctured against Louisville.
Question: How did you know something wasn’t right and that you were injured?
Answer: When I first hit the pylon, I got the wind knocked out of me because I dove (to score) and the defender pushed me down on top of the pylon. The pylons weigh at least 6 pounds, some have cameras in them, they aren’t like the youth league rec ones that are like paper weights. They have some weight to them.
I was pushed down and I guess I hit it the “right way.” It was a freak accident, and I got the wind knocked out of me. Growing up, my dad always said, “If you get the wind knocked out of you, then you find a way to get off the field because it’ll come back and you continue to play.”
Once that happened, I tried to get up and get normal, but I couldn’t. It was just a different feeling.
Question: How did you react when you were rushed to the hospital?
Answer: It was one of the most freakish injuries that could happen to any football player. It was just really scary because I didn’t really know what was going on at the time until I got to the hospital and was told my season was pretty much over. I broke down like a kid, because I love the game of football and I’d given all I had that day and scored four touchdowns against Louisville.
It was one of the best games I’d played in in my life, and for my season to just be over, it broke my heart.
Question: I read in an article where your head coach, Dave Clawson, was scared for you and didn’t want to even answer the phone because there might be bad news. Did it ever register with you that this could be fatal?
Answer: I didn’t think that until the doctors told me if I would have gone back to my dorm that night that I probably wouldn’t have made it. That’s when it struck me that I’m just blessed and thankful that I told someone that I was injured.
I would just like to tell all players out there that if something’s bothering you, don’t try to tough it out or just “make it through the next day.” Because if I wouldn’t have told anybody what was wrong with me, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell my story today.
Question: What was the toughest part of the recovery?
Answer: Really, just having to watch everybody play. I’m a football player. I want to be out there with my teammates competing. We made it to a bowl game that year, and I’ve never made it to a bowl game, and that’s one of the biggest games of the year. It was just sitting and watching from the sidelines.
I redshirted, so I had to watch 12 weeks of football, so then to get out there and establish myself and watch it again, it was really frustrating.
Question: What’s most exciting: a punt return, kickoff return, or when the quarterback throws you the ball?
Answer: For some reason, punt return is so exciting because I feel like if I make the first one or two guys miss—it’s a touchdown.
Question: What does it mean to a Wake Forest player to win the Brian Piccolo Award?
Answer: It’s definitely a great honor. I’ve been getting emails, texts and congrats all week from everybody at Wake Forest. Brian Piccolo went here and was a great man on and off the field. It’s just a great honor and that what I’ve done on and off the field didn’t go unnoticed. I’m going to continue to work hard to represent Wake Forest and my family.