BOCA RATON – Charlie Partridge said offensive lineman Reggie Bain offered an encouraging, even motivational, message to teammates who came to visit him in the hospital.
“One of the things that Reggie made very clear when people came in to see him was, don’t come in this room if you’re coming in to feel sorry for my injury,” Partridge said. “That’s not what I want. You guys figure out a way to stay on the mission.”
The mission for FAU this week revolves around defeating Southern Illinois in Saturday’s season opener.
Bain, a junior who started every game of his first two seasons at left tackle, won’t take part in that game and will likely miss the entire season following Friday afternoon’s traffic accident.
According the Boca Raton Police, Bain was returning to campus on NW 13th street when, while crossing Glades Rd., a Toyota turning in the intersection struck Bain’s motor scooter. Bain was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Despite the accident happening in close proximity to Boca Raton Regional Hospital, emergency crews transported Bain one town north to Delray Medical Center, which is known for its trauma unit.
The Boca Raton Police representative did not know the extent of Bain’s injuries and, citing HIPAA laws, Partridge did not disclose those injuries during Monday’ weekly media conference – other than to reiterate that they were non-life threatening.
“The most important thing is that he’s safe, he’s supported – from a big-picture standpoint he’s in a very good place,” Partridge said.
Word of Bain’s accident spread quickly among teammates. Upon learning of the accident, Partridge says he headed to the hospital, as did many of the Owls.
“There is a time to put football aside and just express how much you love this kid,” Partridge said. “I love Reggie Bain. I love him with everything I have, and to see the team support him with that same kind of emotional support means a lot.”
By the evening Partridge sent a group text to the team updating the players on Bain’s condition. Partridge said he visited Bain in the hospital on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
While the injuries will likely force Bain to miss the season, Partridge doesn’t expect them to be career ending.
“We are very, very optimistic about that,” he said.
Partridge says he gave the team another update on Bain’s condition prior to Saturday’s practice – a controlled situational scrimmage that he considered to be one of the best the Owls have experienced during his three-year tenure as coach.
OwlAccess.com reported on Sunday that FAU will compensate for the loss of Bain by moving center Dillon DeBoer to Bain’s left tackle spot, sliding Roman Fernandez from left guard to center, and promoting Tarrick Thomas to the starting left guard spot – a realignment Partridge confirmed to the media on Monday.
Slated to be the starting center last season, concussion-like symptoms suffered in the final week of camp ultimately ended Fernandez’s season before it started. At times Fernandez practiced at center again this fall.
“There were a number of scenarios where Roman could end up at center so we did invest a significant amount of time,” Partridge said.
Partridge also spoke glowingly about DeBoer’s return to tackle – his more natural spot.
“He was like a fish thrown into water,” Partridge said, referring to Saturday’s practice.
Thomas, a redshirt freshman, impressed during spring practices and continued to improve during fall camp. He would have likely seen game action at some point during season even without an injury to a first-teamer.
Bain’s absence, Partridge said, would not alter play calling.
Byers Hickmon ended the spring as the Owls’ third tackle but missed nearly all of fall camp as he recovered from an unspecified issue.
Partridge praised Hickmon’s familiarity with the playbook and didn’t think it would take the redshirt sophomore long to work his way back into game shape.
“I think he’s not that far off now,” Partridge said. “He’s in a good place health-wise right now.”