University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett stuck his head out from underground on Thursday and saw his shadow.
That, of course, means there's only three more weeks without football.
Mallett did a teleconference Thursday with a horde of local and national media and pronounced his foot injury – which needed a second surgery and a replacement pin on June 9th - would be healed in time for him to start practice on Aug. 5.
"I fully expected that and I dealt with that to the best of my ability," Mallett said of a pin being replaced. "I'm right on schedule with the rehab and I'm really just looking forward to getting out there. We knew from the beginning that we might have to do it (the second surgery), so we just decided to go ahead and do it just to be safe."
That is barring any unforeseen setbacks for an injury that happened back in Feb.
"I'm fully expecting to be full go by camp," Mallett said. "Unless anything changes that's the plan. I don't see anything changing as long as everything stays on schedule."
While he hasn't been running, Mallett – who had to miss spring drills but kept throwing anyway while in his protective boot - has been doing plenty.
"I've been throwing skeleton drills. I've been lifting weights just like the rest of the guys but instead of running I've been swimming," Mallett said. "I'm doing everything the guys have been doing except running and that's coming soon."
Mallett, who threw for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions last season, said he thinks he is about ready to take on USA swimming phenom Michael Phelps.
"I feel like I could swim in the Olympics right now," Mallett said. "It's definitely not easy. I've gained a whole new respect for swimmers. I'm used to just kicking around in the pool but this has really kept me in great condition since I haven't been able to run. It's a tremendous workout that's keeping me in shape so when the time comes that it's time for me to run again it really won't be a dropoff."
Fans begin to worry when Mallett, who is an Heisman Trophy candidate and an expected high 2011 NFL draft choice, didn't make last week's Manning QB Camp.
"I wanted to go (to the Manning camp) really bad," Mallett said. "I think it would have been a great experience to be around some of the best players in the NCAA and get to know the Mannings better, but when it came down to it I felt it was best for me to stay here and focus on my studies because I'm planning to graduate in December. I needed to stay and rehab and do what was best for me and the team to prepare for the season."
Mallett says that he most certainly will not play carefully in an attempt to keep from getting injured again.
"I'm going to play the game of football the way I'm supposed to play it with no holds barred and no fear," Mallett said. "I'm not even going to worry about it. I'm going to give everything I've got to help this team be successful."
The record-setting quarterback also says he and his team are embracing the same high expectations as their fans.
"The mindset we have is a championship mindset," Mallett said.
He was asked why he had stayed at Arkansas this season instead of jumping to the NFL.
"I promised my mom I would graduate," Mallett said. "That's a very important thing to my family because most of my family is educators or coaches," Mallett said. "When I came back I felt like I owed it to the state. They let me come back and transfer to Arkansas and I didn't think it would be fair after one year to just up and leave. When you look at the guys that are coming back, why wouldn't you want to come back and play on a team that has the chance to be great?"
He does admit to playing the new NCAA College Football 2011 video game featuring the Razorbacks and other college teams.
"Of course I've played it. I think if you ask any player in the nation they'll tell you they've played it just because it's a neat deal.
"You've got to play with the Hogs," Mallett added. "My guys are out there and I want to play with my guys."
He admits it can help him, but not as much as his normal quarterback duties.
"I take advantage even in playing video games of reading defenses and going through progressions, and a lot of people really don't understand that," Mallett said. ""Not as much as actually just watching film but I feel like it's got some impact."
Mallett is certain that his real offense is better than the virtual one.
"I think we got shorted a little bit," Mallett said.
Mallett said he needs just 15 hours to graduate, 12 of which he will take this fall and 3 he will take via an online course.
The quarterback also said that he was not thinking about anything but this upcoming season.
"I'm not focused on anything in the NFL right now," Mallett said. "It's all about winning the SEC and the BCS."
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