DENVER -- Although Phillip Lindsay made up his mind long ago that he would play football at Colorado, the Denver South High School running back had reason to worry about his future over the past several months.

After suffering a knee injury in the fall and watching the coach that recruited him get fired, the three-star running back officially signed his national letter of intent and faxed it into Colorado at 7:02 a.m. on Wednesday -- two minutes after the official signing period began.

"Right when I faxed it, they called and said, 'We got it, you're officially a Buff now,'" Lindsay said Wednesday after he and five Rebels teammates held a signing day party in the South auditorium. "Right off the bat, the pressure was off. Sigh of relief. You go through so much. I went through a bumpy road and hard times and when you come to this and they still want you ... that's the best feeling in the world."

There was some doubt because Lindsay is currently recovering from a serious knee injury. During South's season opener on Aug. 31, Lindsay ran for 160 yards and broke the Denver Prep League's career rushing record -- a mark previously held by his father, Troy, who went on to play running back at Colorado State.

Early in the third quarter of that game, however, Lindsay went down with an injury.

"I felt it and I felt some pops," the 5-foot-7, 172-pounder said. "They told me my hamstrings were so tight it kept everything intact. I went ahead thinking I was all right, so I sat out that next game and came back the East game."

On Sept. 14 against Denver East, Lindsay ran for 139 yards in the first quarter, including a 66-yard touchdown run. His left knee, however, was still in pain, and then he went down again.


"That same cut I did that first game of the season came again," he said. "I made that cut and I fell.

"Come to find out, I had no ACL."

He was diagnosed with a left ACL tear the next day and had it surgically repaired a few days later.

"I broke down and cried. It's hard," he said. "You don't know what you're going to do."

Initially, he worried about whether Jon Embree, CU's head coach at the time, would honor his scholarship offer to Lindsay. He did, which took some stress away from Lindsay.

A few months later, on Nov. 25, Embree visited the Lindsay home. Troy asked Embree, who has just completed a disappointing 1-11 season with the Buffs, how long he'd be at CU. Embree told the family he was given every indication he would be there for a while.

That night, Embree found out he was being fired. Lindsay found out from a friend, who saw the report on the news.

All of a sudden, Lindsay's future was up in the air again.

"You have to hope the new coaches coming in are going to still accept you," he said.

Lindsay's fears were removed quickly after Mike MacIntyre was hired on Dec. 10. MacIntyre visited the Lindsay home and assured him he would honor the scholarship offer.

"He wants to be here at Colorado with all his heart, and that means a lot to me," MacIntyre said. "I've never pulled a scholarship on a kid that's had a knee injury."

That meant a lot to Lindsay.

"It means that he cares about you," Lindsay said of MacIntyre. "I can't thank him enough for accepting me. I'm just going to show him what I can do. I'm not going there to sit down. I'm going there to fight for a spot."

Lindsay loved Embree and his staff, but didn't take long to feel the same way about MacIntyre's staff.

"When I went on my official visit, we ate dinner with the coaches every night," said Lindsay, who took his official visit in mid-January. "We got to be with our offensive coordinator, our running backs coaches and I loved them. I can't wait to go up there with them and get ready to go play some football."

Whether or not Lindsay will play this year is unknown. He is running and doing agility drills, he said, and he hopes to be ready to play by the time fall camp opens, but there's always the chance he will redshirt.

MacIntyre is excited to see Lindsay on the field, although he doesn't know where that will be. Lindsay played tailback, but also shined at defensive back. MacIntyre mentioned Wednesday the possibility of him playing slot receiver or returning kicks, too.

"It's up in the air," MacIntyre said. "He's a phenomenal guy with the ball in his hands; that's probably where I see him, but you watch him on defense and he's just a play-maker. He played both all the time, but he's very, very dynamic with the ball in his hands."

If Lindsay winds up playing defensive back, MacIntyre believes Lindsay will be involved in the return game.

Regardless, Lindsay knows there's no need to rush and that he's got five years to make an impact in Boulder.

"All I know is I'm going to go up there ready to play," he said. "If they say otherwise, I'm going to respect it. I'm going to be there for five years. I don't want to be up there first year and get hurt again."

Lindsay has already been through plenty. Now, he's eager to prove to CU that it made the right choice in sticking with him.

Lindsay is the latest member of the family to earn a Division I football scholarship -- in addition to his father, uncle Tony played running back at Utah and cousins Tony and Gabe played quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, at Oklahoma State -- and he can't wait to get started.

"I'm proud of myself for doing what I had to do to become a Buffalo and I'm ready to be in that black and gold right now," he said. "It's an exciting feeling and I'm ready."

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