Chuck Landon: Tough play by Jasperse gives lesson in history
Chris Jasperse has no earthly notion who Lou Gehrig was.
"Who?" said Marshall's starting center.
He was clearly puzzled.
So, instead of giving the redshirt sophomore a history lesson in Major League Baseball, I merely informed Jasperse that Gehrig had been a legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees, who was nicknamed "The Iron Horse" for playing 2,130 consecutive games.
The unfortunate part is being favorably compared to "The Iron Horse" was lost on young Chris.
What a shame because it's an apt comparison.
Jasperse has indeed been "The Iron Horse" of Marshall's offensive line this season, participating in 362 plays in four games.
In fact, the 6-foot-4, 283-pound center has made every snap in Marshall's games against WVU, Ohio and Rice.
Jasperse didn't take a single play off.
Never mind that his right foot reportedly was encased in a protective boot for almost the entire week preceding Marshall's 54-51 double-overtime win over Rice last Saturday. Jasperse was still on the field for every play of the nearly four-hour game despite 90-degree temperatures.
Never mind that his hurt right foot was back in that boot during interviews after the Rice game.
And never mind that Jasperse's seldom seen right foot is probably still in that protective boot this week as Marshall prepares to play Purdue at 3:15 p.m., Saturday, in Ross-Ade Stadium at West Lafayette, Ind.
Does anybody actually believe that will stop Chris "The Iron Horse" Jasperse from playing Saturday?
Of course not.
Remember, we're talking about a guy who has missed only eight plays this season.
"I came out of the Western Carolina game for eight plays and James Allen came in at center," explained Jasperse. "Those are the only plays I've missed.
"The boot? I keep my foot in the boot just to keep the pressure off it. My foot will be fine."
That's because there is a difference between playing hurt and playing injured.
"That's right," said Jasperse. "You can play hurt. That's what I'm doing."
And he's doing it well. So far, Jasperse has graded out at 82 percent against WVU, 78 percent vs. Western Carolina, 75 percent against Ohio and 77 percent vs. Rice.
So, what makes Jasperse "The Iron Horse"?
Two things: Off-season diligence and inherent toughness.
"It's everything we go through since January," said Jasperse. "I don't want to miss a rep. I do all that hard work in the off-season to come out here and do what ... not play?
"Sometimes people say players milk injuries. Not me. I'm going to play. I don't do all that stuff in the off-season not to play. That's in my blood. My dad always said, 'When you get knocked down, get back up.' "
That's where Jasperse gets his toughness.
And make no mistake, he is a tough guy.
Just ask his cohorts.
"Oh, he's a tough kid," said right guard John Bruhin. "He comes out in a boot and, then, plays the whole game. He's a tough kid."
That's the job description for an offensive lineman.
"We always pride ourselves in being tough," said left tackle Jordan Jeffries. "And he's tough, man. He defines that. It seems like every time we play, something happens to him. He gets hurt some sort of way. Whether it's his arm, his leg, his ankle ... who knows.
"But he finds a way to fight through it."
That's because Jasperse is "The Iron Horse."
Even if he doesn't know who Gehrig was.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at email@example.com.
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