Maybe it’s because he can relate to Adrian Peterson’s spectacular recovery from major knee surgery that Cal sophomore cornerback Stefan McClure is able to joke about the Minnesota Vikings’ star.
“He’s just incredible,” McClure said of the running back, who barely missed breaking the NFL single-season rushing record in his return to the game last fall. “It’s just a testament to his hard work.
“You get to the NFL and you have all day to rehab. He doesn’t have class and anything like that. So those times I’m in class, he’s out there rehabbing. That’s the only difference.”
And McClure had a big laugh.
McClure hopes to make a similarly impressive comeback after missing all of the 2012 season while recovering from a pair of right knee surgeries.
He suffered the injury in Cal’s 11th game of the 2011 season, and the news was bad.
“It was a full everything — I think they call it the terrible triad: the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus. I got all of them,” McClure said after practice one day last week.
He then required microfracture surgery in May last year, further delaying his return.
“There’s nothing I could really do about it. It just takes six months for the bone marrow to come back,” he said. “One of those things where I had no control — just had to sit there, couldn’t walk on it for six weeks.
“I basically had to start the rehab process all over again to build the muscles.”
But McClure is certain he will be at full strength long before fall camp begins, and he expects to win a starting job.
“That’s the goal. I want to be out there with the guys,” said McClure, rated as one of the nation’s top cornerback prospects out of Vista High in the fall of 2010. “I feel if I put the work in, I can be out there. My goal is to help lead this team, try to be the best that I can and be like a cornerstone out there.”
McClure said he was feeling “probably 85-90 percent” last week.
“It’s just not quite where I need it to be to be out there 100 percent. Just strength. Certain movements kind of get it once in a while. I trust it when the play goes on, but after the play, I’ll go, `Man, I just didn’t have that same power that I had to accelerate out of a break,’ ” he said.
“I feel that’s just more repitition, driving that foot into the ground and firing those muscles because I haven’t done it this aggressive in a while.”
McClure, who is allowed to participate in spring ball on a very limited basis, said he has been drive to get to this point in his recovery, and beyond.
“From the moment they told me it was hurt, I was devastated just because you know you’re going to be nine months without being able to play the sport you love,” he said. “After that, you’ve got to be on a mission to have the right mindset to come back stronger, faster and better.
“There was never any doubt I was going to come back. It was just how soon, how fast and any setbacks. Me, being the way I am, if I was going to try to rush it. And the staff here did a great job of not letting me do too much but also pushing me to do enough.”
McClure is coming to grips with the reality that as good he could become, things are now different. He’s had major surgery, and his body must adjust.
“I feel 100 percent sure I’ll be able to play. Once you have surgery your body has a different type of 100 percent,” he said. “As long as there’s no pain, I’ll be good to go.
“Anytime you have surgery, it’s not going to feel the exact same, fresh like it was before. Once I accept that but keep working to get it back normal, then it’ll be pretty good.”