Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Incoming QB Michael Cummings’ rehab ‘ahead of schedule’

Killeen (Texas) High quarterback Michael Cummings throws against Killeen Shoemaker on Sept. 4, 2010, at Leo Buckley Stadium.

Killeen (Texas) High quarterback Michael Cummings throws against Killeen Shoemaker on Sept. 4, 2010, at Leo Buckley Stadium.


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Kansas University freshman-to-be Michael Cummings has a few classes to finish, an enormous KU playbook to scour and a couple more weeks of fun with friends in front of him before he reports to Lawrence in June.

But, for some reason, all Cummings can focus on is his graduation speech and the huge batch of nerves that come with it.

Sunday, Cummings, a 6-foot, 196-pound, dual-threat quarterback from Killeen, Texas, will join one of his high school teammates and the school’s valedictorian in standing in front of the entire school and addressing the senior class. His message?

“Really, just let God lead your life and use all the experiences we learned in high school and let it guide you throughout the rest of your life,” he said.

Cummings has done plenty of that in the last several months. A knee injury stole the end of his high school career from him and the only way for the dynamic QB to make sense of it all was through faith. After leading his team to a 7-0 start, Cummings tore his meniscus in the eighth game and the wheels fell off. Killeen lost that game and finished 1-2 without its leader, bowing out in the first round of the state playoffs.

From there, Cummings was forced to watch from the sidelines as his friends and former teammates went through basketball and track season without him. So determined was Cummings to don a Killeen High uniform one more time, he attempted to join the baseball team despite not having played the sport for years. It didn’t work.

“The doctor at my school wouldn’t let me,” he said. “He didn’t clear me.”

From there, his focus shifted to rehab and KU and getting back onto the football field as soon as possible. Just as he did while playing quarterback, Cummings turned in eye-popping results during rehab.

“The doctor says I’m ahead of schedule,” Cummings said. “When I went in for my three-month check-up, he said I was where people usually are around six or seven months.”

Just hearing those words was comforting for Cummings. Actually feeling the progress was even better. Each day since the surgery, Cummings has felt more confident in his knee. Though he’s aware there’s still more work to be done — he’s especially excited about getting to Lawrence to rehab with KU’s training staff — Cummings believes he’s made enough progress to be a legitimate contender for KU’s starting quarterback job this summer.

“It’s gonna take work,” said Cummings, who’s talked with KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long twice a week since signing in February. “But I feel like there’s definitely a good chance for me to come in and compete for the starting spot or else I wouldn’t be coming at all.”

Some days, Cummings has done a little more work on the field than he thought possible.

“I have tested it out some even though I wasn’t supposed to,” he said. “I’ve been running for the last three months, but I wasn’t supposed to do any cutting or anything like that, but I have been. I had to.”

The reason? He wanted proof that he still could be the dual-threat QB who threw for more than 4,000 yards and rushed for nearly 2,000 more during his sophomore and junior seasons combined.

The cuts felt good. So did the running. In fact, he says he feels better today than he did on the first day of football practice last fall.

Cummings will report to KU on June 10, a day after his final appointment with doctors. When he arrives on campus, he’ll do whatever it takes to jump into the quarterback competition that includes returners Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham and fellow-freshman Brock Berglund. Cummings has seen film of Webb and Mecham and he respects their abilities. He doesn’t know much about Berglund, but said he’s looking forward to battling with all three QBs.

“Competition brings out the best in people,” Cummings said. “I knew it wasn’t gonna be a cakewalk because they already had previous quarterbacks. But to have another quarterback in my class makes it that much better.”

With just a few days remaining before Sunday’s big speech, Cummings’ focus keeps shifting back to his final act at Killeen High.

“I’m nervous,” he said. “I don’t want to forget the words. Football comes easy, but speaking in front of people is always nerve-racking. You don’t want to mess up.”


Kman_blue 11 years, 6 months ago

That's great news about Michael's rehab and another solid football article to keep us football junkies occupied for a bit.

Thank you Mr. Tait!

I know the coaches were really high on Cummings when KU recruited him before his injury and it's good to hear it looks like he'll be back to 100% by fall practices. More competition at the position we probably need the most competition at will hopefully push all of them to elevate their games and strengthen the position overall for this fall.

KCHawk81 11 years, 6 months ago

Ah, I've been waiting to see this kid's name in a headline. Thanks for this one, Matt. Cummings looked fantastic on film. He's fast and has a good arm--better than Berglund, if you're judging only by whether the receivers have to slow down to make a catch. I still wouldn't mind if he took a redshirt this year, but he and Berglund ought to put more pressure on Webb and Mecham than we--the impatient alumni--ever can.

treyvanahill 11 years, 6 months ago

Yes. Michael Cummings is very talented and I've been waiting to hear about him too. I just hope he doesn't turn into a Marcus Herford/Christian Matthews/Kerry Meier/Kale Pick and actually plays quarterback here.

KCHawk81 11 years, 6 months ago

I'd say Pick and Matthews are both in a position to put up good numbers at receiver in the next couple years, so those decisions are still under review. Herford didn't play much receiver, but was the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year in 2007, so he did all right. Of all the guys you mention, only Kerry Meier failed to be a productive player. As long as Cummings can avoid that fate, he's a gifted athlete and will probably be OK wherever he fits best.

Dale Kroening 11 years, 6 months ago

How did Meier fail to be a productive player. Did you see the numbers he put up in his last 2 years ? And he is in the NFL to boot. You must be confused with someone else. Kerry was EXTREMELY productive.

KCHawk81 11 years, 6 months ago

See? You give someone the opportunity and the tools, and they'll make your point for you. That's this coaching staff's approach, too. Let's hope it works!

westernkshawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Okay Matt, now you've tested your knee and should feel confident that it's going to be okay. Now PLEASE go back to following the doc's protocol. Wouldn't it look kind of foolish if you reinjured that knee doing something ahead of schedule just for your own satifaction? Play it cool; we're going to NEED you BIG TIME next fall.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Ku football poster:

Gill (dressed like a dr) standing infront of all of the injured players we recruited or that were hurt last year bandaged up and in hospital beds...

KU football Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for a place to play.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Sidenote: other than still believing in the tooth fairy, unicorns, santa, and jc this kid seems to be a good one. Didn't compare himself to tebow, vick, or manning once. Any word on if he will run back to mommas womb and girlfriends arms after a month or so away from home?

JayDocMD 11 years, 6 months ago

While I recognize and will stand up for your right to voice your opinion (no matter how ignorant it may be) it is pretty classless to mock the kid's beliefs. Some people worship something greater than themselves - some just worship themselves.

Larry Smith 11 years, 6 months ago

I thought it was an ACL tear? The article says meniscus. A meniscus is a relatively minor injury if that is the case. Take it from a guy who has endured both.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Ummmmmmmmm nope, not a Missouri fan.

And I've seen the double post before but you have chartered new ground with the double copy and paste post.

Dennis Mahorney 11 years, 6 months ago

Another well written article. You are really good at these human aspect stories. Seems like you have an inside track to what the readership wants to hear about.. thanks Matt.

ozzzy 11 years, 6 months ago

Matt-- There is one more QB on our roster that you failed to metion...Blake Jablonski. After watching the spring game, I don't see how he won't at least be in the mix. Good luck to Cummings. Seems like a great kid.

treyvanahill 11 years, 6 months ago

I totally agree!! After the spring game I thought Jablonski looked the best. Even if he's not leading the race he should at least be considered!

Matt Tait 11 years, 6 months ago

I've posted this a couple of times now but I'll do it again in case you missed it. KU coach Turner Gill said after the spring game that he was impressed with the way Jablonski played but that he was not in position to compete for the starting job.

That's straight from the horse's mouth. So my leaving off Jablonski was not a slight against him. He was great in the spring game. It's just quite clear that he's not in the mix...

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Love it! 6000t fans in the stands saying the kid looked good and 1 guy on the sideline saying he's not an option. If he's not an option why is he in the game?!?! Especially when a starter hasn't been named!!!

ozzzy 11 years, 6 months ago

Good article here... I don't want to be the one to second guess our coach, who clearly knows more about football than me. I can just see a situation where we choose to red-shirt both fresh QB's, because neither will have a good grasp of the playbook, and Webb/Mecham aren't cutting it.

79ictjhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

ahperse: Who ever heard of a coach making the decision on who starts? Clearly not you. Your bright idea would be to have the fans vote on it? If only your constant complaints would help, we'd win the BCS!

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Who ever heard of a coach having two qb's for a year and a half and still can't decide?

79ictjhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Sometimes players don't play as well in games as they do in practice or spring games. Somethimes the better player has an off game. Webb was the better QB over the season, but Mecham had the great comeback win against CU. Pick was more mobile, but not as accurate passing. Would you have played the same guy for each game all season? If so, who? There was no Tebow on the bench.

bad_dog 11 years, 6 months ago

Well, it's really only been one season with the vacillation you allude to. We'll see how it plays out this fall. Hopefully Coach Gill will come around to your way of seeing things. Who do you recommend at QB? I'm sure he'd like your input.

Tom Landry alternated Staubach and Morton in '71-'72 and that worked out pretty well until he finally settled on Staubach. I realize that's old school, but I definitely "heard" of it-in fact watched and enjoyed it although it was pretty clear to most of us "know-it-all" fans that Staubach was the better choice. The ultimate "proof" came in 'the 78 Super Bowl when the Cowboys blew out Denver with Morton at the helm for the Broncettes.

HAWKTOPIA 11 years, 6 months ago

Converting a team to capitalize on speed takes time. in reading this article, and an overview of past articles, I am very excited about the move to speedy players, and motion options. This could be a huge equalizer if it works. All things being equal, size wins, but speed rules! A running QB and backfield will rely less on O line size, and larger defenders will be fatigued later in the game. My guess is that Jablonski may be a talented QB but without the attributes that would increase his worth to the direction of play.

d_prowess 11 years, 6 months ago

Since Berglund was mentioned in the article, do we have any idea if he will be arriving on campus in June?

Matt Tait 11 years, 6 months ago

Berglund is expected to be here when the rest of the class arrives on June 6... This should be a fun race once all four guys are in town.

Stay tuned...

Larry Smith 11 years, 6 months ago

Matt, could you clear up the knee injury? ACL or Meniscus? big difference.

Matt Tait 11 years, 6 months ago

Michael said his biggest issue was the torn meniscus. He said he thought he had problems with his ACL all season (even before the torn meniscus) and I'm pretty sure both issues were addressed through surgery.

But, again, Michael said the meniscus was the main injury.

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