Utah tight end Brant Kuithe on his injury, rehab and what the future holds

Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe (80) makes a cut during a pass play as Utah and Florida play in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Florida won 29-26.
Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe (80) makes a cut during a pass play as Utah and Florida play in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Florida won 29-26. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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Utah tight end Brant Kuithe was announced as out for the remainder of the season by Utah coach Kyle Whittingham following Utah’s 34-32 win over USC in Los Angeles on Saturday.

On Tuesday afternoon, in his first interview since Sept. 12, he provided an update on his injury rehab. Kuithe tore his right ACL and meniscus on Sept. 24, 2022, against Arizona State and had surgery — performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who also did Cam Rising’s surgery — to repair it in October of that year.

Because he won’t play a snap all season, Kuithe is eligible for a medical redshirt.

In his last fully healthy season, 2021, Kuithe had 50 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns and posted 206 yards on 19 catches through three games in 2022.

The longtime Utah tight end went in-depth on his injury and his recovery process, plus talked about the future on the “Bill Riley Show” on ESPN 700.

Here’s the full quote from Kuithe:

“I tore my ACL and meniscus last year and what happened when I tore it, my meniscus, it tore and then flipped into the joint, I forgot what it’s called, bucket handle or something, but flipped into the joint so I couldn’t straighten it or bend it all the way before surgery so I couldn’t put weight on it, which I couldn’t get any muscle back, so I was just losing muscle the whole time because I couldn’t really do a whole lot. And when I got surgery I was having a lot of pain and as far as motion goes and everything, I was having a hard time with that because of the pain. And also just it wasn’t moving very well. It was locked up for so long for a couple weeks. And at that point I got told that I probably need to get a scope because of scar tissue, but I kind of went the route of just breaking it up on my own, which, pretty painful, just more of just like you got to bend to the point where it hurts a lot, but obviously you’re not going to tear anything, it’s just you’re breaking through scar tissue.

“I got to the point where I ended up developing a cyclops lesion on my ACL, which it’s not a common thing, but it’s also not anything crazy, it’s just a built up a scar tissue on my ACL and I had scar tissue around my knee, which Dr. ElAttrache kind of said, ‘I don’t know how you’ve been practicing, but we’re going to need to get surgery on it,’ remove the cyclops lesion because I couldn’t get full extension, which in turn my quad wasn’t activating, I couldn’t get the full strength back. It’s kind of a risk for hyperextension, all those different things. So I ended up getting the surgery … and then after that it’s been literally night and day difference as far as how my knee feels.

“But I’m just kind of trying to get back to strength and everything and it’s progressing but not as fast obviously as I wish it would have been because if I was fully healthy and I got this procedure done, I could be playing, but I was still trying to get stronger and come back before I got the surgery. So I’m just not able to play.

“But knowing that I can be fully healthy now just kind of makes me feel way better. It is just very frustrating. I can’t play this season and as far as after this, it’s kind of up in the air and what I’m going to be doing, but I’m just happy that I got this done, I needed to get it done. I wish I could have gotten it sooner, but I mean it is what it is. So I’m just on the road to recovery, but I’m finally feeling good. It’s just trying to get everything back to where I need it to be.”

Kuithe explained that he was practicing, but some days could not finish practice due to pain from what turned out to be the cyclops lesion.

“Knowing that there was something causing it and I can fix it and get it removed and it’s perfectly good, just like new, it felt good to finally get the answer because all the pain and every problem I’ve been having was because of this mostly,” Kuithe said.

The loss of strength that happened before the ACL surgery caused problems for Kuithe, and his leg is still not back to full strength after over a year.

“Where I’m at now, the strength isn’t there, isn’t close to my left leg. I need it to be more equal than it is, unless you’re going to overcompensate and you’re going to get hurt or hurt something else,” Kuithe said.

He made the decision to shut it down for the season to get completely 100%.

“It is a little frustrating having to deal with this and now not playing for the rest of the season, but at the end of the day I just want to be healthy and if this is what it takes, because coming back this season I don’t think would be possible at all. I could come back and not play at even close to a 100%, but then at that point just the risk of injury is way too high and it wouldn’t have been worth it to me. And just at this point getting 100% healthy and getting back to the person I was is more important,” Kuithe said.

As far as returning for this seventh year of college football, Kuithe joked that feels like he’s “getting old,” but he hasn’t made the decision to declare for the draft or return to Utah for a seventh season yet.

“Obviously NIL does help because if I want to come back for another year and I turn 25 next year in December, so I’ll be 25 by the end of the season if I do come back. Kind of taking another year and maybe risking something just in general, NIL, but it just kind of has to be for the right number,” Kuithe said.

“I’m OK with declaring (for the NFL draft) just because I know if I’m 100% healthy, I’m confident in my abilities and me making a team and making plays outside of that. … I haven’t made my decision yet. I’m just trying to focus on my body and not really worry about any outside stuff and just trying to take it one day at a time.”