Months before the 2011 season, Northwestern launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Dan Persa. The school even sent 7-pound purple barbells to media members to promote “#PersaStrong.”
The only problem: Persa had a setback as he rehabilitated his blown Achilles tendon and had to sit out until Week 4. And his rushing ability was never the same.
Fast-forward to 2018: Clayton Thorson had surgery to repair the torn ACL in his right knee, but there will be no promotional campaign for his fifth and final season in Evanston.
And whereas NU coach Pat Fitzgerald strongly implied during 2011 fall camp that Persa would be ready to go in Week 1, he will take a different tack with Thorson.
“I’m not writing a check with my mouth that doesn’t happen — and now all of a sudden I’m (being called) a liar,” Fitzgerald told the Tribune.
Thorson, who is rehabbing on campus, has declined interviews since his mid-January surgery. The injury occurred after he made a 24-yard catch on a trick play in the Dec. 29 Music City Bowl.
Fitzgerald said everything is “progressing great.”
“Hopefully he’ll be getting off the crutches soon,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll talk about timetables down the road. I’ve learned my lesson on that. We’re not doing that again.”
So while there’s some optimism Thorson will be ready for the Aug. 30 opener at Purdue, a Thursday night game, NU officials figure to stay mum on projections until late spring or summer.
Junior TJ Green, sophomore Aidan Smith and redshirt freshman Andrew Marty will split first-team reps in spring practice.