In March, Corey Liuget found out he would be suspended and miss the first four games of the 2018 season.
Throughout minicamp, training camp and the preseason, things seemed normal to the eight-year veteran as he went through the offseason like any other.
But despite the months of mentally preparing, knowing he was going to be away from the team, on September 1, it got real.
Liuget's four-game suspension ended this week, and on Monday, he discussed what it was like pulling up to Hoag Performance Center for the first time in a month.
"It was a big emotion," Liuget said. "When I first got here, I parked my car and was just like, 'Dang man. I still have an opportunity.' I talked to guys like Ricardo Matthews, talked to Kendall Reyes, Sean Lissemore, those guys who I played with and now they're done. Kendall got a chance this year, but the other two guys didn't, and they're like 'Bro, you've still got a chance, just go play.' Those guys are dying and hoping to get a phone call, wishing they'd get a phone call, and I've still got an opportunity. So I'm going to definitely take what those guys told me and I'm just going to prepare myself for these next 12 weeks."
Liuget said the hardest parts of being away were not being able to communicate with his teammates or help them out on Sundays.
But just because he wasn't with the team doesn't mean he sat idly by during his suspension. He watched every game and trained up in San Jose to keep his body in top shape.
"It wasn't the same drills every day, but it was the same concept," he remarked. "(We did the) weight room first for an hour, and then once you leave the weight room go off into the field and do probably 15 get offs. Right hand, left handed stance. And once you get done with that, you go hit the sled. We hit the sled and make sure our hips are firing, make sure that we're able to keep our arm locked out, gap arm, so if we do have to rip off and make a play, we can definitely do that. Just striking the sled, things that I really couldn't get the physicality out of – the things that I was missing in the game, I just got it on the football field hitting the sled and those type of things."
But along with the football work he put in, Liuget also wanted to take this time to make an impact in the community. He did a plethora of community service work in both Orange County and Northern California by working with the American Heart Association while also speaking to a group of kids in juvenile hall. The latter was important for Liuget as he wanted to share his story to impact the kids' lives. In turn, Liuget learned a lot about himself in the process.
"Even though I'm in the middle of this, my situation still isn't the worst in the world. Like I'm not going to die or stop being who I am because of what I'm in. I met kids who have cancer, I helped kids in juvenile (who are) probably never coming home and the other ones that have an opportunity. I'm like, 'Hey, we still have an opportunity. Make the best of it. Once you get out of there and I get out of this, take full advantage of it.' For me, it was very emotional."
But now that Liuget's back, he's taking full advantage of the second chance he's been given, hoping to help his teammates on the line.
"I know when I get in the game, I'm definitely going to look forward to making some plays…. I definitely feel very confident in myself getting out there and creating some push and getting to the quarterback. I feel very good about it."