Notre Dame recruit Torii Hunter Jr. suffered a serious injury during practice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, putting a damper on a week that looked to be very kind to the Irish. Hunter, a sought after wide receiver who will play both football and baseball at Notre Dame, broke his left femur during non-contact drills. He was taken off the field on a cart as news swirled on Twitter that he suffered what was originally rumored to be either a knee or quad injury.
Hunter’s father, MLBer Torii Hunter, confirmed the femur injury to ESPN’s Damon Sayles:
“It’s a fracture, and it will require surgery,” Hunter said of his son. “He’s a tough boy. He’s distraught right now, he’s never had an injury before. I told him he’ll bounce back. I know he will.
“He’s seen me fight through injuries, so he knows it can happen. You just have to work hard.”
Hunter caught a flight to San Antonio after getting the news that his son was carted off the field following 1-on-1 drills. Hunter Jr. was running a routine route when he went down in pain following the release.
The No. 5 receiver and No. 47 prospect in the ESPN 150, Hunter Jr. committed to Notre Dame in September, choosing the Fighting Irish over Nebraska and Arizona State. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver also is a standout center fielder and is a potential MLB draft pick.
“I think what he’s thinking is he’s going to miss baseball,” Hunter said.
How long Hunter’s rehabilitation will take is up for discussion. In the above quoted article, Hunter Sr. estimates that the injury will take six to eight months to rehab, making Hunter Jr.’s availability questionable heading into June, when he’ll enroll in summer school with the rest of the ’13 recruiting class. Yet Hunter Jr. said on Twitter that he’ll be good in 12 weeks, though he did think he’ll likely miss baseball season.
(For a good idea of what the rehabilitation process looks like for a broken injury, Edmonton Oilers prospect Taylor Fedun’s recovery was nicely chronicled. He’s currently playing for the Oklahoma City Barons after sitting out last season)
With a father that’s spent the past 15 years in the big leagues, Torii Jr. will not be short on medical help, and the elder Hunter has already started reaching out to doctors that will lead his son throughout his rehabilitation process.
The injury won’t do anything to Hunter Jr.’s commitment to the Irish. While Brian Kelly or the Irish coaches aren’t allowed to comment on any particular recruit until after Signing Day, a source inside the program confirmed that everything will stay the same with Hunter’s scholarship.
It’s a tough break for Hunter, who was likely to use this baseball season as a platform for MLB scouts, who project Hunter as a draftable prospect. It’s also a knock against the All-Star game circuit that’s taken over the recruiting ranks, a major injury to a player a month away from signing his letter-of-intent. In Hunter’s case, the injury won’t hurt his opportunity to cash in his college scholarship. But at a different school and for a different prospect, an injury like this could be devastating.