Wildcats' Sutton hopes to return for bowl game

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Tyrell Sutton's third and final hard cast will be removed next week, along with the pins inserted into his left wrist after an injury that usually occurs only in a car accident or during a fall from great heights.

The Northwestern senior running back likely will be fitted with a soft cast and begin the rehab process. After that, there are no guarantees.

Northwestern will play in a bowl game, most likely the Outback or Alamo, and Sutton hopes to suit up.

"It could go either way," he said at Northwestern's practice Thursday morning. "I've got three weeks to see what will happen. We're all preparing as if I'm going to play. My mindset is to play."

But Sutton knows there's a chance his college career, one that began with a Big Ten Freshman of the Year Award in 2005, could already be over.

He dislocated his wrist on a freak play in the third quarter Oct. 25 against Indiana. He remembers the scene after the game, as a team of doctors huddled around him. Only one of the M.D.'s had ever seen a wrist injury like his, from a victim of a car accident.

Sutton underwent surgery the next week and was ruled out for the rest of the regular season, but not a bowl game.

"It would mean a lot," Sutton said of participating in the bowl. "I don't want my last memory to be being in a cast, my last play here being an injury. ... You've got to prepare yourself for the worst. The worst scenario is I don't play at all, but hopefully it won't come to that."

Sutton still doesn't know how the injury happened, and he has no desire to find out.

"I have not watched the Indiana tape," the admittedly superstitious senior said. "I do not want to watch the Indiana tape. And I have absolutely no clue."

Sutton is right-handed and primarily carries the ball on the right side, but he'll need his left wrist to improve in order to be cleared for a bowl game. He has continued to run and catch passes with the cast on.

Running backs coach Matt MacPherson also puts Sutton through simulations, where he runs through plays from games earlier in the season with 40-second breaks in between.

Northwestern would love to have its leading rusher (776 yards) and No. 4 receiver (30 receptions, 276 yards) in the backfield for a bowl. Sutton needs only 22 yards to pass Darnell Autry for second place on the school's all-time rushing chart.

But he doesn't care how he gets back on the field.

"Even if it means me going down and hitting someone on special teams, I don't care," he said. "I want to play."