When people started calling North Little Rock (Ark.) running back Altee Tenpenny "Boobie Miles," he didn't think much of it. After all, he loved the movie "Friday Night Lights" and he possesses rushing skills similar to the brash, real-life Permian (Texas) tailback, so the moniker fit.
But when Tenpenny went down with a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle during a preseason scrimmage last fall, the junior's nickname took on a whole different meaning.
"People really started calling me 'Boobie Miles' after the injury," said Tenpenny, who was forced to sit out the entire 2011 season. "Matter of fact, I watched the movie a couple times and since I'd been through an injury like him, I could relate to him. I could understand that feeling and it made me see things in a different light."
Unlike Miles, whose season-ending ACL injury came during his senior year, Tenpenny still has another season under his belt to show that he's still got it. As a sophomore, Tenpenny rushed for 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading him to be selected as one of just three juniors at The Opening last summer and for the likes of Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma State to offer scholarships before he committed to the Crimson Tide in January.
Before he took part in the Nike Football SPARQ Combine at Cowboys Stadium this past weekend, Tenpenny took some time out with us to discuss his injury, his recovery and how it all affected the recruiting process.
ESPNHS: How did the injury happen?
Tenpenny: We had a scrimmage at school before last season and I was running with the ball. One of my teammates dove to tackle me and unfortunately, he grabbed my shoulder pads and horse-collared me to where I hurt my right ankle and fractured my fibula.
ESPNHS: What was going through your mind at that moment?
Tenpenny: I was just thinking, "Lord, please let me be able to play football again." I was blessed that it was just a break of my bone instead of anything really major. I'm just glad I can still play football.
ESPNHS: What was it like sitting out on the sideline all of last season?
Tenpenny: It was very tough, just knowing that no matter how my team was doing, whether good or bad, I still couldn't help them. I just tried to support them as much as I could. I had to keep praying and surrounding myself with positivity. My teammates were always real positive, so that helped a lot.
ESPNHS: What was the reaction from some of the college coaches recruiting you?
Tenpenny: Immediately after, my high school coach and I met with a couple coaches and called some others, and they all said that nothing had changed. I just started crying, but they were good tears because I was happy that I still had a future in football.
ESPNHS: How's your recovery coming along at this point?
Tenpenny: My recovery is coming along well. I still have a few kinks and some minor pain in my leg. Right now, I can run about three-quarters speed and I can cut better than I could before, so I feel like I'm close to becoming 100 percent.
ESPNHS: What was the key to you breaking out as a sophomore?
Tenpenny: Just my faith in God. Also, the faith I had in my teammates and the faith my coaches had in me. It sort of surprised me, but overall I knew I had it in me.
ESPNHS: What was your experience at The Opening like last summer?
Tenpenny: It was great. I love to compete, so what better way to compete than against 150 of the top players in the nation? My favorite part was coming in second [in the SPARQ Finals] and talking to guys like Ray Rice, Aaron Curry and Jerry Rice.
ESPNHS: What went into your decision to commit to Alabama?
Tenpenny: I've always been a big fan of them. There's a lot of tradition at that school, my family said they enjoyed it when they went, and the coaches, fans and players I met were all real cool. It just felt like the right place for me.
ESPNHS: Did your injury have anything to do with you committing early?
Tenpenny: No, not really. I just didn't want to focus on all the letters and who's interested in me during my senior year. I wanted to have that out of the way and focus on winning a state championship with my team.
School: North Little Rock (Ark.)
Position: Running back
Movie: “Friday Night Lights”
Athlete: Chris Johnson
School Subject: English
Food: Cheese dip
Team: San Diego Chargers
Song: "Hometown Hero" by Big K.R.I.T.