Hunter Hopeful to be Healthy for Camp
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Hunter Hopeful to be Healthy for Camp

Notre Dame receiver signee Torii Hunter Jr. is rehabbing from a gruesome leg injury suffered in January, and his goal is to be ready by the start of training camp.

Doctors told Torii Hunter Jr. his recovery time is six to eight months, which puts his return from a broken left femur squarely before Notre Dame opens training camp.

Yet, Hunter knows there are plenty of doubters. He reads message boards and talks to fans, and many express disbelief he will be ready to start the season.

"I don't want to red-shirt," the 6-foot, 180-pound Hunter said. "That's one thing. I look online and see people on the forums, and they think I should red-shirt. When I see that, it pushes me."

Hunter suffered the broken femur during a non-contact drill while practicing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January in San Antonio. It was such a gruesome injury it required surgery, and it was only recently Hunter shed his crutches and can walk on his own.

However, it wasn't a freak injury. In hindsight, it spoke to Hunter's toughness, and ability to play through pain.

"They were saying the only way for that to happen the way it did there may have been a stress fracture there before that I was playing through and it finally gave out on that cut," Hunter said. "My spirits are definitely higher. Every time I go into therapy and come out making progress, it gets higher. The first couple of week when there wasn't any progress and you're just sitting at home being miserable, can't move, can't walk and can't do anything on your own, it's tough.

"Once I could get up and move around, it got higher."

Hunter, who is also a very good baseball player (his father, Torii Sr., is a long-time major leaguer) is now dealing with the frustration of a long rehab and inactivity.

He was a standout for the Prosper (Texas) High baseball team, but is now relegated to watching from the bench.

"It's definitely tough because I've never missed any games because of injury," Hunter said. "When I'm not out there competing, I don't feel like I'm part of the team, and it's definitely hard on me."

It is quiet an adjustment for the active Hunter, who 71 passes for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. It's also taught him life lessons.

"Just appreciate the things we don't appreciate in life, like walking," he said. "People don't take time to appreciate walking, and just being able to get up and go to the bathroom. I just started appreciating things more. You start realizing the little things more."

Hunter said his rehab is not driven by imagining what he will be able to do once he is healthy. His goal is getting healthy, and that remains a long ways off.

"My hip is tight right now," he said. "Once it's loosened up, I have to strengthen it, too. Once I start to straighten it, I have to walk without a limp and then work my way up from there.

"They went in through hip, so there is scar tissue there. All that has to heal up, and the muscles have to connect, and all that. It came back, so now it's tight so all that has to break up."

So is it possible all will be well when training camp commences in August?

"My doctors are optimistic," Hunter said. "I am too. I think that's a good possibility."