Notre Dame football recruiting: Hunter won't let injury set him back

TYLER JAMES - <a href="http:

When Torii Hunter Jr. found out he broke his femur, he immediately thought of the worst possible outcomes.

Will I miss my senior season of baseball? Will I lose my scholarship to Notre Dame? Will I ever fully recover from this injury?

"I just got real down knowing that I broke the strongest bone in my body," Hunter said. "I didn't know what the recovery was going to be like, if I was going to be the same or anything like that.

"After hearing that I'll make a full recovery and I'll be faster and stronger, that kind of made it better after the fact."

Reassurance from his parents and doctors calmed his anxiety, but it couldn't prevent Hunter from wondering what went wrong.

Practicing with the West team for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 1, Hunter attempted a simple out route against man-to-man coverage. But before he could make it out of his break, he crumpled to the ground and endured a pain he'd never felt before.

"I've seen the play on YouTube, but before that I had kind of wiped it from my head because I didn't want to think about it," Hunter said. "It really was just a freak accident. I can't even think of what I did differently for that to even happen. I was just taking a step and then my leg bent and I just fell over and it snapped. I don't even know. That's just what happened."

Days after Hunter was injured, fellow Irish wide receiver commit and Army Bowl All-American Corey Robinson said he had "never seen anyone in so much pain before."

X-rays showed a clear break in his left femur (the thigh bone) and corrective surgery required a rod to be inserted in the middle of the bone and screws placed in his knee. Four days after the surgery, Hunter was wheeled out of the hospital and allowed to head home with a long recovery standing be-tween him and any sort of playing field.

Hunter, the son of the four-time MLB all-star outfielder, was set to play his senior season of baseball at Prosper (Texas) High after signing his letter-of-intent on Feb. 6. He plans to play both football and baseball for the Irish.

Now, with months of rehab ahead, Hunter is eyeing a full recovery by the time he arrives at Notre Dame in early June.

Doctors outlined a timeline that would have him walking after three months and nearing complete recovery after six months. Less than a month after the surgery, Hunter attends school for half a day on crutches and then heads to rehabilitation for his leg. He recently started riding a bike a week ahead of schedule.

"They said just three months, but hopefully they just give you that time because doctors have to be cautious," Hunter said. "Hopefully, I can come back before then and start walking and putting weight on it a little bit more.

"Then I can start working it out and hopefully I can get to extensive rehab before three months, where I'm trying to jog and everything so I can try to be back before the season."

Despite the injury cutting his Army Bowl experience short, Hunter said the support shown by his fellow ND commits during the week helped him stay positive. Some of them even visited Hunter in the hospital.

"It was definitely really important because it showed how much they care about their fellow Irishmen," Hunter said. "Being there with all the guys, we really got to connect and be around each other, crack jokes and everything. It was definitely a pretty good experience."

Hunter's recruiting ranking took a hit after the injury, dropping out the national top 250 on and the top 247 on But he's focused on living up to his four-star rating when he hits Notre Dame, and he's not allowing the injury to affect his college plans.

"I'll be there in June," Hunter said.

Staff writer Tyler James: