EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kai Callins has a number of scars on his legs.
"People have tattoos and you know, I got, I got scars." Kai Callins said. "So I think it's, I think it's pretty cool."
Football sure has left it's mark on the seasoned running back.
"That's just the first one. Um, nothing too major there." Callins said, wistfully recalling the horrific injuries.
He's a never ending canvas for the toll football takes.
"I think this is my favorite one though, just cause it's different." Callins said, pointing to his largest scars.
This is Kai's reality. It started back in high school. Callins was a talented running back being sought after by several Division-I Programs. Until his first scar cam.
Emporia State running back Kai Callins prepares for his senior season. He's recovered from three ACL tears in his football career.
"I still, I mean I remember pretty vividly." Callins said. "Probably the best run of my life was the play I got hurt on. I make two guys miss off the line of scrimmage. I out run another guy I planted at the one. I just felt a pop and I kind of a grind and it's just like all my power, I can just feel go out on my legs/ I laid on the ground. It was like kinda like the world went quiet."
Callins got an MRI and received the news he didn't want to hear.
"I found out it was torn and I was out for the season." Callins said. "That's when all recruiting and all state champ hopes just kinda went down the drain after that.
Kai was determined to show this wasn't the end.
The people in my circle, um, and you know, if it wasn't for them, I definitely probably wouldn't be playing football right now." Callins said.
Callins returned for his senior season. He saved his best performance for last, in the 5A Oklahoma High School State Championship football game. He ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns.
“You get a win and you get the hold up that trophy at Boone picking at OSU and it's, it was definitely unbelievable.” Callins said.
Next came college. With most Division-I offers at running back off the table, Callins became an Emporia State Hornet. He quickly proved he belonged.
"We were red shirting about 95% of our freshmen and I thought he would end up being red shirted." ESU Head Football coach Garin Higgins said. "But he came in and played it really kind of showed me at that time how good he is."
However, with Spring ball approaching, he soon added a second scar.
"I went to do a spin move off of safety." Callins said. "Whenever it happened, I didn't think I heard a pop or felt one cause I was at like it hurt for about two or three seconds and it just went away. People asked what's wrong? I said I don't know, I don't think I'm hurt. Then got an MRI and sure enough it's torn again.
Callins spent the next year rehabbing, but two games into his redshirt sophomore season, he added a third scar.
"His reaction to it over there on the sidelines, I knew that, that he had torn it." Higgins said.
"God’s gave me this ability, you know, it's, I feel like I'm doing things right." Callins said. "You know, why is this keep happening to me?
No matter the set back, Kai couldn't be stopped.
"I remember going to my doctor and even my dad was telling me like, hey, as after the MRI, you know, you might not be able to play again." Callins said. "I know after he said that like this is, I'm gonna come back."
He returned his junior season and logged the third most rushing yards on the squad. Now, heading into his senior season, Callins is ready to show he's back.
"I feel like, you know, there, there's a reason and a purpose that I'm still here." Callins said. "I'm the lone sixth year and it's, um, you know, it's a humbling experience, you know, cause some of those young guys look fast or they're strong and it's just like, man, they used to be me, you know? I'm very happy I get the, do one more year with these guys."