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Recovering from a serious knee injury, Eagle's Ethan Mikita sees second chance with PWO offer from Boise State

Set for a big senior season, Mikita injured his right knee (ACL) early in his first game against Bishop Kelly, but has started to run and cut this winter.
5A State - Thunder Ridge vs Eagle - 10/30/2020

5A State - Thunder Ridge vs Eagle - 10/30/2020

EAGLE - Ethan Mikita took a long deep breath before picking up the pen.

There, right in front of him, was his national letter of intent. 

This is a big moment for thousands of kids across the country each year on national signing day. But for the Eagle High School senior running back, it probably resonated more than most. A little more than five months after blowing out his knee in the first game of the season, the 5-foot-11, 195 pounder signed his preferred walk-on offer with Boise State University on Wednesday.

“I had doubts that I would get recruited. But I never doubted my own ability. I knew I was going to come back," Mikita said. "I’m glad Boise State took a chance on me. I’m going to make it worth it."

Mikita saw varsity time as a ninth grader before cracking the starting lineup the following season as a slot receiver. But it was his junior year alongside Boise State redshirt freshman Ben Ford that really put him on the map. While rotating between slot receiver and tailback, Mikita earned 5A Southern Conference first-team flex honors with 608 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.

Going into his senior season, he was a three-star prospect and the No. 4 ranked recruit in Idaho with offers from the University of Idaho and the College of Idaho. Mikita was all set to be the Mustangs’ primary running back for the 2021 campaign.

He lived up to all of the hype by breaking off a 61-yard touchdown run on Eagle’s first play of scrimmage in the season opener against Bishop Kelly on Aug. 27.

"Everything had kind of led up to his senior year," Eagle football coach John Hartz said. "Like you knew he was going to be the guy and it was his year."

Mikita nearly scored again on his second touch. He had just one man to beat. So Mikita juked the defender. But it was him who fell to the ground instead. He tried to shrug it off by walking to the sideline and even went back in for the next series. However, after catching a pass and trying to cut up field, his right knee immediately buckled again. Mikita had to limp off the field this time.

The next day his fear was confirmed - a torn ligament (ACL). His season and potentially playing career were over.

"I’m gonna be honest, it’s a big question mark coming back from an injury like that, especially so late in your high school career," Mikita said. "Some people don’t ever come back the same."

However, Mikita wasn’t going to be one of them and he had his own family as an example to look up to. Three of his uncles had gone on to play Division I football and baseball after tearing their ACLs in high school.

Mikita had surgery 11 days later. 

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Luckily, he only tore his ACL and not the MCL or meniscus, which are usually common with his type of injury. So doctors didn’t have to use a cadaver to rebuild the ligament. They cut a strip off of his patella and attached it to the damaged tissue instead.