When it came time for D’Arthur Ratchford’s shoulder surgery, well, he had a good idea of what to expect.
His father, Lamont Ratchford, was a paratrooper in the Army and he’s still dealing with the aftermath of a jump that went awry. Fifteen major surgeries resulted from Lamont’s bad jump, including seven spinal fusions. So, his son was ready when it came time to fix his torn labrum.
Besides, D’Arthur had already experienced pain and rehabilitation. He overcame a staph infection in his knee that robbed him of half his sophomore season of football at Northwestern High School, and he’s continued battling with his shoulder this fall, his senior season of football.
After all of that Ratchford will still be on the field Thursday night wearing a No. 2 jersey when the Trojans host Boiling Springs in the first round of the 5A state playoffs. The Trojans’ pluckiness and perseverance is perhaps best embodied by their starting safety.
“Still playing,” said Northwestern coach James Martin. “You work hard, play hard, eventually real good things are gonna happen to you. It’s a fact of life, accidents happen. It’s how you deal with those accidents in life that prepares you for more things down the road.”
Ratchford’s domination of his serious injuries in the last two years hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Charlotte Touchdown Club named Ratchford its 2018 Thomas Davis Comeback Player of the Year last week, a neat honor for the senior. He’ll be recognized at the group’s annual awards ceremony Dec. 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center in uptown Charlotte.
“I was excited,” to find out, said Ratchford, who was born in Hawaii. “I get to meet (Michigan football coach) Jim Harbaugh in December, get to go up to the hotel in Charlotte for it. Should be nice.”
Ratchford said he was excited, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that otherwise. He’s a low-key dude,
“He just doesn’t think much is a big deal,” said Lamont Ratchford, laughing. “Not much that moves him.”
Except football. It’s been D’Arthur’s dream since childhood to play college football and he should get a shot.
“I just love the game of football, trying to win a state championship in my last year,” he said.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 175 pounds, Ratchford has exceptional size for a defensive back and solid ball skills. He has a scholarship offer from Newberry and interest from Wingate and Gardner-Webb, and his academics are strong too (3.09 GPA).
“Perseverance, man,” said Northwestern secondary coach Benjie Young. “For him to be able to come back each and every time, it shows the type of kid he is, the perseverance he’s got, the drive he’s got. And hopefully he’ll get a shot in college to show it on the next level.”
The Touchdown Club’s award is named for Thomas Davis, the Carolina Panthers linebacker who has overcome a number of career-threatening injuries. Davis became the first player in NFL history to keep playing after three ACL surgeries on the same knee.
Ratchford, who has 54 tackles, 17 passes defended and an interception this season, said the labrum injury was the most painful. Even after five months of rehab, he’s suffered some lingering issues this season. But Ratchford kept playing.
“I’m grateful for the game, some people don’t get to play,” he said. “I’m happy I’m out here.”