Things haven't been easy for Dion DuBose since he came to Georgia Southern.
He endured missing the playoffs and an 11-11 record his first two years.
He went through a coaching change after the 2009 season. The new staff changed his position from middle linebacker to defensive end.
After a loss to Samford in 2010 put the Eagles' record at 4-4, it looked like playoffs were out of the question again.
Then, on Nov. 13, 2010, at Western Carolina, DuBose went down with an injury to his left knee which was thought at the time to be dislocated. The leg injury ended up sidelining him for the rest of 2010 and all of 2011 with a red shirt.
Perhaps worst of all, to DuBose, is that he didn't get to play in two-straight runs to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals in 2010 and 2011.
"It was rough watching from the sideline. If I was out there, I would have been contributing," DuBose said, "but I contributed in spirit. I was pumping them up after every game and I was telling the defensive line what I saw watching them from the sideline."
DuBose didn't let any of his struggles get him down. In fact, watching all of the success the Eagles have had over the past two seasons — they've gone 21-8 and 5-2 in the playoffs under head coach Jeff Monken — has only motivated him more.
"I had to do a lot of rehab, a lot of rehab, every day, twice a day. I knew I wanted to get back out here," said DuBose, who rehabbed with Georgia Southern trainers and Southeast Orthopedic. "Standing on the sideline motivated me to get out here more and more and more."
DuBose knew it was all worth it when he suited up for camp last spring.
"It was exciting, so exciting, like a little kid playing rec ball for the first time," he said. "It made me realize how much love I have for the game."
DuBose certainly looks to factor in on the defensive line alongside some familiar faces. Brent Russell, Josh Gebhardt, Blake Riley, Javon Mention and Terico Agnew are all upperclassmen who played with DuBose in 2010.
Emotional reasons aside, the Eagles are glad to have him back.
"He runs a sub 4.6 (second forty-yard dash) for us and I think he weighs 235 or something like that," said Monken. "He holds his own at that position.
"I don't know that I see a difference between now and 2010. In fact, I think he's got a little bit of an edge. It is his final season, and he can see this is it. This is one last go-around for him and I think he's going to give it everything he's got."
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.