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Originally published Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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UW's Johnny DuRocher back on football field

In 2006, Washington quarterback Johnny DuRocher had surgery to remove a brain tumor, and his football career appeared to be over. But Tuesday he was back on the football field, trying to impress pro scouts with his throwing arm even after elbow and Achilles injuries.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Johnny DuRocher has a three-inch scar on the back of his head from an operation to remove a brain tumor. He also recently had surgery on his left Achilles tendon. And his elbow would require surgery should he ever want to throw a baseball again.

But Tuesday, there he was at Washington's Pro Timing Day, tossing around a football for a few NFL scouts, hoping to get another chance at playing quarterback.

DuRocher isn't sure what his chances are, given his health issues and time away.

"I just made up my mind I'm going to do it," said the former UW and Bethel High School quarterback, "and [if it's] 10 years down the road and nothing happens, I'll be able to say I left no stone unturned."

DuRocher was one of 15 former Huskies working out for a handful of scouts Tuesday, and surely the most unlikely.

His collegiate career ended in 2006 when a nonmalignant brain tumor was discovered after DuRocher suffered a concussion against Stanford. He had surgery a few weeks later and declared his football career over. He then turned to baseball, playing for UW for one season, then was drafted by the Mariners and spent last summer in their minor-league system. An elbow injury ended his year, but because the throwing motions are different, it doesn't hurt to throw a football.

He returned to UW to finish classes, landing a job helping with the football team. "I'd pick up a ball now and then and throw it around at practice for fun and it was coming out good," he said. "It was like, 'Why not give it a try?' "

DuRocher began training to get back in football shape, though that was set back when he suffered an Achilles injury and had surgery Dec. 31. That still bothered him Tuesday, but he hopes he showed a strong enough arm to intrigue one of the dozen or so scouts from the NFL and CFL. He hopes to be ready in two or three months.

DuRocher, 24, says his brain surgery is no longer an issue and that he was cleared by his neurologist to play. "I've got all the paperwork and everything," he said. "So that's not even a concern of mine anymore."

NOTE

• Eleven players taking part were members of the 2008 team. Of those, the most likely to get drafted is center Juan Garcia, who was the only Husky invited to the NFL combine. He participated Tuesday only in sprints.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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