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UND safety Jordan Canady returns less than six months after tearing Achilles to help solidify Fighting Hawks defense

Canady's interception against Drake was the eighth of his career, a career mark that trails only Joel Schwenzfeier and Deion Harris in UND's Division I history.

CANADYVSHUSKIES.JPG
Washington Huskies tight end Drew Sample (88) runs for a first down against North Dakota Fighting Hawks defensive back Jordan Canady (25) during the second quarter at Husky Stadium in 2018. Photo by Jennifer Buchanan, USA TODAY Sports.

After UND safety Jordan Canady tore his Achilles' tendon last March against North Dakota State, doctors gave Canady a recovery outlook of 6-8 months.

At best, Canady was looking at returning for UND's fourth game of the fall in the rematch against the Bison.

"I knew I always wanted to come back but there were some bad moments," Canady said. "There was some depression of some sort in the beginning days. It's hard to see the days ahead when people are saying you can't do this or that.

"The NDSU game was the plan initially but obviously I was back way sooner than that."

Canady's ability to rehab his injury has helped the Fighting Hawks solidify a defense that's coming off back-to-back strong performances in a shutout against Drake and limiting North Dakota State to one touchdown and 16 points.

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UND's defense will try to keep that momentum going Saturday at 2 p.m. against South Dakota in Vermillion.

"I feel like the same player," Canady said. "The first game back was nerve-racking. I felt like a freshman again. It has been awesome to get back out and play again. It's a blessing."

UND's training staff and coaches opted to sit Canady in Week 1 at Idaho State, although the fifth-year senior feels like he could've played.

Canady returned to the lineup in a limited role at Utah State, which was five months and 21 days after his full Achilles tear.

Canady has 12 tackles in his three games and his interception against Drake was the eighth of his career. Canady's eight interceptions is No. 3 in UND's Division I era, behind only current-Fighting Hawks safeties coach Joel Schwenzfeier and Deion Harris.

In career tackles, Canady sits fourth in UND's Division I record books behind Dominique Hawkins, Cole Reyes and Will Ratelle.

But Canady's fifth season, thanks to the NCAA's granting of a free season of eligibility in 2020 due to COVID-19, almost didn't happen.

The Wisconsin native tweaked his foot in UND's win at Western Illinois last spring leading up to the Bison matchup.

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"It didn't feel right," Canady said. "Going into that game, I didn't feel 100 percent. I wanted to play through it because that's what I've done my whole career."

But the Achilles gave out against NDSU.

"It was a devastating moment," Canady said. "I knew it would be a long road, but I made my way back. I've got hurt a lot in my career and usually can walk it off. I asked to go to the sideline that time. It felt like I was kicked in the back of the leg, then you feel like part of your foot is missing. When I didn't have any power in my foot, I knew it was pretty serious."

Canady has produced a series of videos on Youtube to showcase his recovery and to let other athletes know it can be done that quickly.

"It's about the work you put in," he said.

Canady said he knew returning this fall was possible when he saw a soccer player (Belgium midfielder Axel Whistle) return to action five months after an Achilles tear.

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"I planned on running at 12 weeks no matter what," Canady said. "I set that goal and was able to do that. It was all about setting many goals and reaching them every week or so."

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