After more than seven weeks of waiting, Troy Stoudermire was getting nervous about his future. "People were telling me, '[You played in] four games, you're not going to get another year,' " the Gophers senior cornerback said. "If I didn't get it, I was going to enter the NFL draft."
Winter semester classes begin next week at Minnesota, so news of the Big Ten's decision -- Stoudermire, his 2011 season ruined by a broken bone in his left forearm, has been granted another year of eligibility with the Gophers -- came just in time on Friday. Now the 21-year-old Dallas native can play another full season of college football with pro scouts watching.
"It's definitely celebration time. I felt like I was going to have a great year [in 2011], so I wanted to get back out there and show what I can do," Stoudermire said. "I'm very excited, because it felt like I waited a long time for" the conference's decision.
Stoudermire fractured the ulna bone in his left forearm during the Gophers' victory over Miami (Ohio) last September, then tried to play with his arm in a cast the following week but lasted only one quarter. He sat out the entire Big Ten season and feared his Minnesota career was over.
"It was real hard not being able to help," Stoudermire said. "I always had hope. I prayed every night, hoping I could do more to help my team."
Stoudermire's 3,102 yards of kick returns are the most in Big Ten history, but it's his experience in the secondary that coach Jerry Kill most covets. Despite his injury, the cornerback led the Gophers in interceptions with two last season, and he made 24 tackles, giving him 62 for his career.
But until secondary coach Jay Sawvel called with the news -- "He was pretty excited about it," Stoudermire said -- he wasn't sure he would be back to add to those totals.
"I'm really glad, because I think the team's going to be better," he said. "The defense has matured, and MarQueis Gray has definitely matured at quarterback. Beating a bowl team in our last game, beating Illinois, that showed where we're going."