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Sunday, January 6, 2013
Irish offer still good for Torii Hunter Jr.

By Damon Sayles

Notre Dame commit Torii Hunter Jr. (Prosper, Texas/Prosper) didn’t watch much of Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Not because he didn’t want to. While lying in a San Antonio hospital bed, Hunter admitted to dozing off during the first quarter, and when he woke up, doctors had cleared him to return to Prosper.

Sunday is the start of what Hunter believes will be a long-but-productive rehabilitation process. Hunter sustained a broken left femur during a non-contact, 1-on-1 drill at U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice Tuesday. The ESPN 150 wide receiver had successful surgery the following day and is expected to miss no less than six months of action.

“It takes 12 weeks to completely heal, but there will be a full six months to rehab and be back running,” Hunter said. “I'm trying to come back before.”

Lofty goals for an athlete who is experiencing his first major injury, but beating the odds is what motivates Hunter each day. Doctors placed a rod in his femur, and while he’s not wearing in a cast, he is required to move around with the assistance of a walker for the next couple of weeks.

Hunter, No. 47 in the ESPN 150, said there’s pain where doctors made the incisions and also in the thigh area, but he’s remaining positive about making a full recovery. Added motivation came after speaking to Notre Dame football coaches following the injury. Hunter was happy to receive news that his football scholarship still will be available, and he will sign a national letter of intent next month.

“Since I committed to them, they said they’re going to commit to me and not pull my scholarship,” Hunter said. “I’m good on that end. That actually made me feel a lot better.”

Hunter added that he’s been in contact with the Notre Dame baseball coaches, as well as area baseball scouts. In addition to being a standout wide receiver, Hunter was expected to lead Prosper’s baseball team this year and ultimately be a potential draft pick -- much like his father, Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter. After hearing that pro baseball teams were still very interested in him, Hunter said the pressures of rehabilitation seemed to decline.

“It was all scary at first, because a bunch of stuff ran through my head about my future,” Hunter Jr. said. “People kept talking to me, and as my family got into town, they comforted me, and I started realizing I’d get back sooner that I thought.

“It really started to not bother me as much when my parents got there. They told me to stay positive and know that I’ll bounce back. I just needed to keep all the negative thoughts out my head, and I had to put in the work to get better.”

Football wise, Hunter is the No. 5 receiver in the country in the 2013 recruiting class, and he committed to Notre Dame on Sept. 23, choosing the Fighting Irish over Nebraska, Arizona State and others. The four-star athlete also is the No. 6 player in Texas.