Trumpy remains confident he'll start again for Wildcats


Trumpy remains confident he'll start again for Wildcats

Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy tuned into Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs like any other Bulls fan expecting a deep playoff run.

But when Derrick Rose, Trumpys favorite athlete to watch, collapsed to the floor in the fourth quarter, it brought back particularly difficult memories for the Wheaton native and his family.

My mom told me that she immediately started crying when she found out, Trumpy said. She felt the connection because the two of us (Trumpy and Rose) tore our ACLs.

Although his injury had occurred seven months earlier, the agonizing memories of the day were, and still are, fresh in Trumpy's mind.

It came during Northwesterns Big Ten opener at Illinois on Oct. 1 when he was the teams starting running back. In the second quarter, he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee but returned when it was clear that no damage was done to any major ligaments.

But on the teams first opening drive of the third quarter, Trumpy went down again and knew it was something more serious.

On the play, I got tackled and then came up in an excruciating amount of pain, he said. I was like, this cant be my meniscus acting up because thats just not how it works. I kind of hobbled off to the sideline and I just collapsed because I was in so much pain.

After an examination on the sideline, he was informed it might be an ACL injury and he started to break down. He knew a torn ACL would have an especially cruel sense of irony.

Ive had a lot of injuries since being (at Northwestern), he said. All the times I got injured or missed practice, I would always say, At least I didnt tear my ACL. And when that happened, I was like, 'what do I do now?' Its one of those major injuries in the sport and its never good to hear about. I was pretty devastated when it happened.

Trumpys season was over. He got surgery on his knee less than two weeks later, which put him at a new low. Each day was more agonizing than the moment of the actual injury, which he said was the most painful of his career.

The whole offseason working back - building confidence along the way and being patient throughout the whole process was difficult, he said.

The timing for Trumpys ACL tear was terrible considering his new role in the offense. He worked his way up to starter by the end of his redshirt freshman year in 2010 and became the teams leading rusher with 530 yards and almost 4.6 yards per carry. Before his injury as a sophomore, he was leading all Northwestern running backs with 5.2 yards per carry.

Trumpy would seem like a natural to return to the starting lineup as a junior but the seriousness of the injury led to the coaching staff moving junior Venric Mark, a dynamic kick returner and former wide receiver, to running back.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald named Mark the starter when the depth chart was released Monday. Trumpy will be his backup when the team kicks off the season at Syracuse Saturday. But that does not mean Trumpy won't see the field. Fitzgerald has discussed playing a rotation of running backs and riding whichever one has the hot hand.

In addition to Mark and Trumpy, the Wildcats also have capable backups in sophomore Treyvon Green and senior Tyris Jones, each of whom saw action last season.

Knowing the top guy could be yanked at any time, Fitzgeralds rotation strategy has maintained a competitive atmosphere in the backfield.

No ones complacent, Trumpy said. My redshirt freshman year when I first started playing I entered camp as fifth- or sixth-string, and I wasnt satisfied. I just kept trying to work and work and work and try to earn a role. Eventually I started playing.

While Mark, who played running back during high school in suburban Houston, knows that his job as the teams No. 1 back is far from secure, he too has embraced the approach of running back by committee.

If Coach Fitz says whoevers hot, (its) whoevers hot. I agree with him, he said. If Im in the game and Im not doing very well, then of course, take (me) out.

The sign that Fitzgeralds plan may be the right one for the Wildcats is that despite the highly competitive environment it has created, there is still unity among Trumpy and his backfield mates. It is clear within the relationship between Mark and Trumpy, who are both striving for the same thing.

We always talk. We always try to help each other out. Mark said about Trumpy. Just basically technique, stuff like that. Which hole, A or B. What would be easier so you dont have to do so much work. Blocking technique and different stuff like that.

Trumpys a great guy. Hes funny; hes real goofy, he added. Hes looked upon as one of the leaders in the running back room. Hes proven himself year after year.

At this point, Trumpy will have to prove himself once again. His injury has at least temporarily cost him his job as Northwesterns primary runner. But despite the occasional lingering effects from the most painful moment of his career, he has somehow put a positive spin on it and come a long way from the day he was in tears on the Memorial Stadium sidelines.

Its not something thats fun to go through at all, he said. But Ive grown from it. Im happy it happened because I have a different perspective on football and life. Im stronger mentally and physically from it.

Illini, DePaul to play for first time in 60 years as part of November's Gavitt Tipoff Games

Illini, DePaul to play for first time in 60 years as part of November's Gavitt Tipoff Games

Illinois and DePaul haven't played since 1957. Sixty years later, the drought in this series is over.

The Fighting Illini will battle the Blue Demons in an intrastate showdown on Friday, Nov. 18, as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the annual event pitting Big Ten squads against teams from the Big East.

This game between the Illini and Demons, a pair of Land of Lincoln programs with new reasons to be excited, will surely be the highlight of the eight-game event for Chicago-area fans. The two programs have played 18 times but zero since a 75-70 win for the orange and blue in 1957.

Illinois will be playing in one of its first games under new head coach Brad Underwood, hired this spring to replace John Groce, who was fired after a largely unsuccessful five-year tenure in Champaign. Underwood is off to a good start, earning a commitment from the state's Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith.

DePaul, meanwhile, has its own momentum following a recent commitment from Tyger Campbell,  a five-star recruit in the Class of 2018.

The rest of the Gavitt Tipoff Games schedule has plenty of intriguing matchups, as well, including Northwestern playing host to Creighton at Allstate Arena, the Wildcats' temporary home for the 2017-18 season while Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes a complete renovation.

Take a look at the full slate below:

Monday, Nov. 13
Minnesota at Providence

Tuesday, Nov. 14
Purdue at Marquette

Wednesday, Nov. 15
Butler at Maryland
Creighton at Northwestern
Indiana at Seton Hall

Thursday, Nov. 16
Nebraska at St. John’s
Xavier at Wisconsin

Friday, Nov. 17
DePaul at Illinois

See how one fan completed the ultimate Chicago sports scavenger hunt


See how one fan completed the ultimate Chicago sports scavenger hunt

For one day at least, Marc-Louis Paprzyca is Chicago's greatest sports fan.

Paprzyca - known on Twitter as MLP or Pappy_Hour - completed the ultimate Chicago sports scavenger hunt Wednesday to honor Natinoal Scavenger Hunt Day, needing only three hours to accomplish the feat:

He got started early on the South Side:

Then on to The Bean:

Da Bearsss were the next stop:

Next, the North Side:

And the best for last:

What's amazing is how MLP was able to don different Chicago sports attire for every single challenge. He even donned Jordan 11s — the ones MJ wore during the 1996 NBA Playoffs — outside the United Center.

MLP — a blogger for Sports Mockery and three-time winner of Beer Money — won a pair of tickets to attend either a Cubs or Sox game.