DuRocher expected to recover from brain surgery

SEATTLE -- A tumor removed from University of Washington quarterback Johnny DuRocher's brain this week was benign and he's expected to make a complete recovery, the neurosurgeon who did the surgery said Friday.

"I expect him to have an absolutely normal life," Dr. Richard Ellenbogen told a news conference at Harborview Medical Center. "Things look great."

DuRocher, a 22-year-old junior from Bethel High School in Graham, had the 2½ hour operation Thursday. After an MRI, Ellenbogen and other doctors thought the tumor was going to be benign, but they couldn't be sure until after the surgery and a pathologist in the operating room looked at a specimen from the tumor under a microscope.

"Until we take it out, we don't know for sure," Ellenbogen told reporters.

Corrina DuRocher said her son was upbeat and positive throughout his ordeal, but apparently was apprehensive Wednesday night.

That was when DuRocher asked himself, "'Do you know what? What happens if it's not benign?"' Corrina DuRocher said. Her son waited until after the surgery to mention those thoughts to her.

A strapping 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, DuRocher found out he had a brain tumor after he suffered a concussion in Washington's 20-3 loss to Stanford Nov. 11. Doctors noticed an abnormality after he had a CAT scan at the UW Medical Center and MRIs confirmed the tumor.

While Ellenbogen said it was fortuitous that DuRocher's concussion led to the discovery of the brain tumor, he said it was just a matter of time before the tumor was discovered.

"He would have been symptomatic in the next few months I suspect because this thing had grown a little," Ellenbogen said.

The physician said the type of tumor that DuRocher had was congenital, "something he probably had since he was very young."

"What was surprising to me was that his brain was under a lot of pressure," Ellenbogen said. "It is unimaginable to me that he didn't have severe headaches."

DuRocher said before his surgery that he didn't intend to try to play football again, a decision his father, John DuRocher Sr., agreed with.

"I wouldn't like to see him play again just because he's got a plate in his head with screws," his father said. "It's probably a totally different process if your son is the starter and has a chance to go pro. But why risk it?"

DuRocher said this month that he'd like to play baseball -- as a pitcher -- for the Washington Huskies next spring. He hasn't played baseball since his sophomore year in high school.

"About 1:30 yesterday, he was doing this," said Corrina DuRocher, making a pitching motion with her wrist.

Ellenbogen wouldn't rule out that DuRocher might be able to play professional baseball some day.

"It seems unimaginable that after you have a brain tumor taken out that you can play professional sports, but nothing is out of the ordinary for these guys who are incredible athletes," he said.

Ellenbogen said DuRocher probably would be released from Harborview this weekend.

DuRocher played in two games for the Huskies this season, completing five of 17 passes for one touchdown and 44 yards, with two interceptions. He transferred to Washington after redshirting as a freshman at the University of Oregon in 2003.