Bloomington, Ind. – Adam McClurg's IU career is going to end a whole lot better than it began.
Forget about the fact McClurg's first season in Bloomington, 2003, ended with a 2-10 record while this year's squad went 7-5 and earned the program's first bowl berth since 1993. McClurg's first go-around in an IU uniform was a season to forget for reasons other than the team's final mark.
McClurg will remember his debut season for a couple of injuries that left him on the sidelines and wondering if his college career was over before it had even started.
After arriving on then-coach Gerry DiNardo's team from Center Grove H.S. as a walk-on, McClurg endured a couple of debilitating injuries. The first was a broken wrist that required surgery. That was followed by a torn ACL that also had him under the knife for a second time and fearing the worst.
"With the knee, I was afraid I might be done," said McClurg. "After the surgery I couldn't jog, I couldn't stay in shape. With the broken wrist as well, I couldn't lift upper body or lower body, so all I could do was sit there getting out of shape.
"That's when I was debating whether I'd be able to make it again."
McClurg did manage to make it, thanks to his hard work and the support from family and teammates. He's not only made it back onto the field, but eventually earned a scholarship and has spent the last two season's as the team's starting middle linebacker. He's saved his best for last, totaling a career-best 94 tackles and 11 ½ tackles for loss this past fall.
While he's proven to be tremendously productive, it hasn't come without additional pain…and injuries. As a freshman he tore the labrum in his right shoulder, and as a sophomore tore the meniscus in his non-surgically repaired knee. In spite of this season's success, he's afraid he's damaged his labrum again and thinks he might need to have it looked at once the season comes to a close.
Through it all, he's missed only three games in the last four years and has helped anchor a senior class that will be remembered for ending IU's 14-year bowl drought.
"Having things end this way means a lot," said McClurg. "It's something we've been preaching for the last five years. It's something special for these seniors, something we can remember for the rest of our lives."
While McClurg's current focus is on preparing for the Hoosiers' Dec. 31 Insight Bowl match-up with Oklahoma State, he also knows that his time in Bloomington is coming to a close. While he says continuing his football career remains an option if his body feels up to it, he also realizes the football game against the Cowboys could be his last.
"I've been playing 15 years - I started in the second grade," McClurg said. "I don't think I've taken a season off. So (giving up football) will be hard. I'll have to wait and see. I won't be able to tell how hard that will be until it gets here."
If this is, in fact, the last time McClurg plays an organized football game, he says he will be appreciative for the last five years he's spent with the Hoosiers and an IU career that was nearly little more than a footnote in an IU media guide. Instead, he's been a key building block for a program that has a bowl berth and facility enhancements on the horizon.
While McClurg will cherish those facts, he says it's t he people he'll remember most – ones that helped him overcome his early injuries and persevere.
"I wouldn't trade any of these friends for the world," McClurg said. "That's what kept my around when I was hurt. There were so many relationships I built, and I didn't want to give that up.
"I think back then I would have made someone tell me I couldn't do it any more before I gave it up."
Obstacles, Injuries Don't Deter McClurg
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