Draft Diary: Dominique Easley tracks path to the NFL (Part IV)

Dominique Easley played four years at the University of Florida.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dominique Easley played defensive tackle at the University of Florida. Easley, who’s originally from Staten Island, NY, made himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft in November. He teamed up with FOX Sports to do a draft diary. He’ll be taking you through the process of the rehab — from his (knee) surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews to training and preparation for workouts for the draft. You can follow him (@MR_ChUcKiE_2) from now all the way up until draft day. (PART I, PART II, PART III)

BOCA RATON, Fla. — I’m 15 weeks out of my ACL reconstruction. Since October I have been to both ends of Florida, starting in the middle with Gainesville, then moving to Pensacola, where I had my surgery and rehabbed at the Andrews Institute until December. That’s when I moved to Boca Raton to start training with Tony Villani.

In terms of my rehab, I am happy to say that I am running. Though I am not at my full speed, I am getting prepared, both mentally and physically, to reach my goals of not only reaching my best time prior to my injury but surpassing it by preseason.

Prior to my first stride I doing was non-weight bearing training in the water until I was ready to try on land. This is when I would run in a tank full of water with a treadmill on the floor of the tank with my head above water. I must admit running is the hardest milestone to get past with my rehab.

Even though it is my second ACL reconstruction, the hesitation was still there. To take the initial stride on dry land and accelerate is more mental than it is physical for me. So when I overcame my mental, I just ran. And I’ve been running since. With trusted advice from my rehab team at the Andrews Institute, as well as my rehab team in Pensacola and Tony, I am pacing myself so that I am not just healing and strengthening but that I am progressing optimally. With running I have to make sure that I keep the swelling and pain under control. I use the VES Sports machine, which is a compression sleeve that uses air compressed into chambers to reduce swelling. I even do alternative therapy like cupping and acupuncture on top of daily massages from myself and weekly massages by a professional.

Since I approach this whole process holistically, I also got a pair of custom-made foot orthotics as well as a new bed to keep my back in line.

Though rehab is going well, I still have to put a lot of focus on my strength and skill training. I work out at least twice a day, six days a week on top of skill drills and exercises. One of the great things about Tony is we are working on being a total athlete, so I also do the hyperbaric chamber, which helps with my endurance because it simulates high altitude air pressure. I’m also focusing on my weight. With Tony, we’re working to build substantial muscle mass, so I’ve been taking protein and eating right. Even though I’ve only been training for a short amount of time, I feel a big difference in my body development. I have a clear set of goals and with all the resources I feel like each day I am closer to achieving them.

With training progressing well, I am also doing more board work, where I am studying the Florida playbook and re-watching film. With each day I feel myself mastering the game of football.

Overall, I’m loving Boca Raton. As family and friends from up north are complaining about the worst winter in history, I’m enjoying the sunshine as I go to training in a T-shirt and shorts.

What I love best about the city is driving down the 95 in my custom Dodge Charger. I love to put the windows down, blast my music and maneuver through traffic. Other than that, I got the PS4 and I’ve been working through Call of Duty and FIFA.

My mindset now, more than ever, is grind. I got my family on my mind and I’m trying to push through this process. But more than just push through I must prevail.

This is my first chance to show the NFL and the world that this Staten Island kid can dominate the game.

Follow Dominique Easley on Twitter @MR_ChUcKiE_2