A football player by trade and competitor by nature, Terrence Miller has endured his fair share of falls on the field.
But something felt wrong following what he called "a freak accident" in spring practice. The Arizona Wildcats senior wide receiver landed awkwardly during a drill, seriously injuring his side and back.
"I thought I had knocked the wind out of myself, but it kept hurting," he said. Team trainers "wanted to keep checking me out to make sure I was OK. When they did, they noticed something was wrong."
Miller was diagnosed with a lacerated kidney and spent five days recovering at University of Arizona Medical Center. Miller did not participate in the Wildcats' April 14 spring game but has since been cleared to participate in training camp. He is expected to play when the UA opens its season Sept. 1 against Toledo.
Miller has been one of the Wildcats' most physically imposing players during his three-year career, which includes 42 catches for 507 yards.
The 2012 season marks his last, best chance to succeed. The 6-foot-4-inch, 228-pounder should benefit from the UA's new spread-option offense, even though it's too soon to tell exactly where Miller fits in first-year coach Rich Rodriguez's attack.
"I know he wants me to play hard and fast and make plays when they throw the ball my way," he said.
"We can run, we can pass. When everybody's doing their job, and we're flying around like we're supposed to, it'll be great."
That Miller can still fly around - or play at all - is a credit to his own resilience and quick reaction by the Wildcats' medical staff. Miller, 20, noticed blood in his urine shortly after the practice fall and was rushed to UMC.
He panicked at first; things got better, he said, "when they told me I was going to live."
Miller didn't do much during the hospitalization, he said. Doctors gave him an IV drip on his first day; after that, he said, he was mostly subjected to tests and bed rest - "laying around, chillin'," he said. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native eventually learned to relax.
"The first two days were rough. After that, I was a regular there, and everybody knew my name and stopped by to say hello," he said.
Lacerated kidneys are typically caused by abdominal trauma from a fall, or a car or bike accident. The few football-related kidney injuries in recent years have been the result of spearings or direct hits to the back, not awkward falls.
Arizona State safety Clint Floyd suffered a lacerated kidney in a 2008 game against USC and missed a few weeks. Just last year, a Colorado high school player spent 13 days in a Longmont hospital after suffering a lacerated kidney in a game.
Brysen Daughton was accidentally speared by a teammate while the two were playing special teams.
Miller's case was different, in part because he wasn't hit by anybody. Teammate Dan Buckner said he's still surprised at the damage done.
"I watched the play so many times (on tape), and I thought, 'That's how he got hurt?'" Buckner said.
It was. But the flukey injury won't define him, Miller said.
"I'm, like, 100 percent, man," Miller said.
"It was a bad fall, but I'm back. I'm up."
• San Diego (Calif.) Madison High School's Lawrence Walker became the 23rd player to verbally commit to the UA's class of 2013 on Tuesday.
The Scout.com recruiting service has yet to rank Walker, a wide receiver and teammate of top target Pierre Cormier.
Cormier, a three-star running back with offers from 10 schools, is expected to choose a college soon.
Walker's commitment comes one week after Darius Allensworth, a defensive back in the 2013 class, opted to reopen his recruitment.
• The UA will hold a meet-the-team function Aug. 19 at McKale Center.
Doors will open at 11 a.m., the school said Tuesday, and the official program - hosted by play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries - starts at noon.
Players and coaches will sign autographs from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The McKale function replaces the annual "Meet the Team Night" scrimmage, an Arizona tradition since Dick Tomey's tenure as coach.
Training camp: Day 5
At Kindall/Sancet Stadium
• Temperature at start: 104 degrees
• Walk-on watch: Defensive tackle Tevin Hood joined the team in January after spending his previous two seasons at the University of San Diego (2011) and Duke (2010). The 6-foot, 302-pound Hood has football in his blood: His biological father, Eric Swann, played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1991 to 2000; Hood's younger brother, Jaxon, is a freshman defensive lineman at Arizona State.
• The big number: 8. Time, in the morning, that the Wildcats will practice today. The team will depart for Fort Huachuca following its first morning practice of camp and will spend Thursday through Sunday on the Army installation.