Sunday, January 5, 2003

Knee injury will keep McGahee a Hurricane

RB will stay at UM

The Associated Press

PHOENIX - Willis McGahee's professional career will have to wait.

Miami's All-American running back tore three ligaments in his left knee against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and will have reconstructive surgery, assistant coach Don Soldinger said Saturday.

The injury means McGahee, a sophomore who was expected to turn pro and was widely projected to be the first running back taken in April's NFL draft, will return to Miami and try to recover in time for next season. It won't be easy.

He tore the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee early in the fourth quarter Friday night, Soldinger said. McGahee will have surgery today, but rehabilitation could sideline him for all or part of next season.

Teammate Frank Gore tore two ligaments in his knee last March, began running five months later but still hasn't returned to full-contact practice.

McGahee has nearly eight months before Miami's season opener at Louisiana Tech.

"He'll come back," Soldinger said. "He's that type of guy, a competitor, a hard worker."

I've seen it over and over again. If he stays positive and works hard - he's down in the dumps right now - he'll come back. He has an unbelievable work ethic combined with tremendous talent. You can't go wrong that way."

McGahee, a 6-foot-1, 224-pound Miami native, ran for a school-record 1,686 yards and 27 touchdowns this season and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Doak Walker Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.

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