Emmanuel Franklin missed playing football terribly.
Serving as a student "assistant coach" for Arizona State last season while recovering from skull surgery in the spring only reminded him of just how much he enjoyed the game.
It didn't ease him toward a civilian life; it made him want to return to the ASU secondary.
But what should he do?
His mother, Deborah, didn't want him to return to the violent game. His grandfather had undergone a similar surgery to drain blood from his brain and died.
His father, though, told him to ask a higher authority to guide his decision.
"My dad's a minister and he told me to talk to God about it," Franklin said earlier this week.
Cleared by his neurosurgeon in late January, Franklin decided he'd be in uniform when spring practice commenced last month.
"I just hated sitting out," he said. "It made me realize how much I love football. I had to come back."
It was during last year's spring practice in early April that he received a concussion in a collision with fullback Mike Karney. After complaining of headaches 10 days after the incident, Franklin was examined by a neurologist at the Barrow Institute.
He needed surgery. His football future was in doubt. He couldn't play but he tried to stay connected with the team by helping assistant Ron English with the cornerbacks.
He continued to get encouraging news from his monthly CT scan checkups.
The healing was so good that Franklin began a slow assimilation back to the sport during preparation for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
He worked out with the team in an orange non-contact jersey and shorts while wearing one of the new Riddell Revolution helmets.
"It felt real good just to have a helmet on me," he said.
Particularly this one, which was designed to reduce concussions.
"The Revolution is really comfortable. The face mask looks like a goalie's mask," Franklin joked. "I feel like I should be getting saves instead of interceptions. But I like (the helmet) a lot."
ASU's medical staff has avoided getting constant updates from Franklin so that he is not unnecessarily reminded about the surgery.
But there's a natural concern about a serious head injury involving a football player.
Medically, Franklin "was 100 percent" healed and recovered, trainer Perry Edinger said, which meant the decision to play rested with him.
The first day of contact he was cautious.
"He was tentative about putting his face in there," said Brent Guy, ASU's defensive coordinator.
Said Franklin, "The first day of pads I was kind of reserved in the drills. I felt the first bump, and I was so nervous."
The "bump" was normal discomfort from banging after an extended layoff. With each day he got more comfortable playing. Franklin is a different player, Guy noted.
"What's obvious is his enthusiasm," Guy said. "His enthusiasm for the game has changed. He knows what it's like to be in a situation where he might not play football again. He's looking at life now from a different perspective."
While Franklin eases himself back into football, he also has another important assignment, improving his grades. During his hiatus from football he found that his academic achievement was tied to competing.
"It hurt me, my grades dropped," said Franklin, a good student in high school. "My mind was on a lot of other things. I didn't finish my incompletes. I worried if I'd ever play football again."
Now that he's playing, Franklin says of himself, "If you do good in one area, you'll do good in another."
With Brett Hudson's return to safety, there's an opening at the cornerback position opposite R.J. Oliver. Franklin is competing with lettermen Josh Golden and Mike Davis Jr., both sophomores.
Franklin said he's unconcerned about where he is in the pecking order.
"I'm just happy to be on the depth chart, period," he said.
EXTRA POINT: ASU coach Dirk Koetter said running back Loren Wade, and safeties Matt Fawley and Joey Smith will be available for today's 1 p.m. scrimmage. Defensive end Jimmy Verdon (high ankle sprain) will miss the scrimmage and may be done for the spring.