LINCOLN — Mick Stoltenberg sees the time around signing day as both a start to his Nebraska football career and the next important step in his comeback from a knee injury.
The Gretna High senior has seen limited activity since surgery Sept. 16 to repair cartilage damage to his left knee. Stoltenberg started some physical therapy recently with the hope of getting the OK to start jogging in coming weeks.
“Once I am let free to do some strength training and stuff like that, I'll be working pretty hard to get myself where I was before the injury,” he said.
“It's kind of hard not doing something. Right now, I'd probably be wrestling or playing basketball. I've always been really active.”
The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder missed all but two football games last season for the Dragons after committing to NU last summer. But he expects to be full go by the time he reports for the Huskers' summer conditioning program in June.
That was the hope four months ago after he was diagnosed with a chondral defect to cartilage in his knee that required bone grafting done by an NU team physician.
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“They looked at the X-ray recently and said I'm coming along well,” Stoltenberg said. “I think I'm about on schedule with the prognosis. As long as I'm ready by June, that's the goal. I don't want to rush anything.”
Stoltenberg said he's mostly limited now on things such as football-related drills. He's been able to do cardio work on an elliptical machine and upper-body training.
Stoltenberg, who will sign with NU on Feb. 5, expects the Huskers to look at him as a big-bodied tight end or offensive tackle once he gets into the system. He was planning to get some experience at both positions last season after playing mostly defensive end as a junior.
So it also was tough taking a step back after preparing hard for his final season.
“In that summer, I had run my best 40 time, had my best lifting maxes and was at my highest weight,” Stoltenberg said. “I felt like I was in pretty good shape.”