COLLINSVILLE — Brayden Burd knew exactly what was wrong at the time. Collinsville’s versatile two-way player just didn’t want to deal with it during his team’s most important game of the season.

Burd went down with an injury in the second quarter of last fall’s Class 5A state semifinal against Midwest City Carl Albert and did not return.

In his absence, Dadrian “Rabbit” Taylor and his Titans teammates pulled away in the second half and dealt Collinsville a season-ending 37-20 loss at Owasso Stadium.

“I got hit pretty hard up the middle,” Burd recalled. “I thought ‘Dang. I didn’t want that to happen, at least not in that game.’”

Burd suffered a stretched nerve that gave him pain in his shoulder and neck area. He had experienced a similar type feeling earlier in the season, but nothing that kept him from missing game action.

Since the offseason began, Burd’s mission has been to heal. Doctors warned him when dealing with nerve issues, a complete recovery could take up to an entire year. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound linebacker/running back was absent from contact during spring ball but did get released shortly after.

“My workouts are tough, so I’m getting in better shape,” Burd said. “I’m almost 100 percent. I’m just about there.”

Burd is No. 1 in the All-World football preseason linebacker rankings, which are based on past achievements, projected 2019 performance and college potential. He is the only returnee from last summer’s rankings, when he was at No. 7. Booker T. Washington’s Krishawn Brown is No. 2 and Broken Arrow’s Campbell Yeager is No. 3.

Last year, Burd registered 89 tackles and five sacks as a junior. He also ran for more than 1,000 yards and scored 15 rushing touchdowns as the Cardinals completed their first undefeated regular season in 39 years.

Collinsville coach Kevin Jones said Burd is the fastest player on the team and among the strongest for his size.

“He has a lot of explosive, natural strength. He always has,” Jones said.

Collinsville graduated a number of key contributors off of last year’s 12-1 campaign, including leading rusher Jake Tuttle and fellow running back Malcolm Tillman, who teamed with Burd for a three-headed attack in the offensive backfield.

With the aforementioned graduation losses and several inexperienced Cardinals stepping into new roles, Burd’s health and production late into the season figure to be vital to Collinsville’s success.

“Burd’s definitely kind of our guy (at running back),” Jones said. “But in this day and age, even at a high school level, it’s hard to have just that one bell cow at running back, unless he only plays running back. And Brayden’s a really valuable defensive player for us, too. We’re going to have to do a good job of being smart about how much we play him on both sides of the ball.”