CINCINNATI (AP) — Quarterback Munchie Legaux will get to play in his hometown of New Orleans on Friday night, having come full-circle from a gruesome knee injury that jeopardized his career a year ago.
He won’t be the starter, but that won’t matter to the Louisiana prep star.
Gunner Kiel practiced on Tuesday and is expected to start for Cincinnati (4-3, 2-1 American Athletic) despite severely bruised ribs. Coach Tommy Tuberville said on Tuesday that Legaux also will get into a game against Tulane (2-5, 1-2) with many relatives cheering him on.
It’ll be another special moment for Legaux, who tore ligaments and cartilage in his left knee during the second game last season and was told he might never be able play again. He’s spent the week trying to arrange tickets for many folks back home.
"Probably half the city, I would think!" Legaux said on Tuesday. "I have a lot of relatives who have been calling and texting me, asking me if I can get tickets for the game."
Legaux had his best moments last Friday night at Paul Brown Stadium during a 34-17 win over South Florida. Kiel got hit in the ribs again — he’s been limited since taking a rough hit in the chest during the third game of the season — and couldn’t return.
Legaux took over and completed 14 of 15 passes — the only incompletion was on a ball batted down at the line — for 121 yards and no interceptions. He also ran 9 yards for a touchdown, slid to his knee in the back of the end zone and put his head on the ground.
"Just to go in and score a touchdown, it kind of hit me that hey, I’ve worked so hard for this moment and the time has finally come for me to help my team win a football game," Legaux said. "I just was excited, a lot of emotions. Like I said, I almost shed a tear, started crying on the sideline. But I’m just happy. Happy that I’m back, happy that I’m playing football again."
His teammates hugged him as he came off the field.
"There wasn’t a dry eye on the sideline when he scored that touchdown," Tuberville said. "We look at all these negative things that go on, and there is something that should be front-page news.
"The heartache that kid has gone through and the disappointments, to do something like that when he should probably have been working at a bank right now or selling insurance or building his own business or whatever. He wanted to come back and he is a tough kid and I’m proud of him."
Legaux is glad to have another comeback milestone out of the way.
"Every day everybody asks me about the knee," Legaux said. "I kind of want to just put that behind me. I understand that it was a tough injury for me to overcome, but the focus is not about me.
"I kind of want to just focus on the football team and not Munchie Legaux’s return. I returned, I played, we won, the game is over, now we’re moving forward."
Tuberville also announced a tougher policy for players who get into trouble. A linebacker had an alcohol-related arrest over the weekend. In the last six weeks, three players have been arrested and another cited. The most notable was reserve quarterback Jarred Evans, suspended indefinitely from the team following his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge.
Any player who gets in trouble will be suspended for the rest of the season, Tuberville said.
"I’m a guy who gives a lot of second chances, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and say there’s no more," Tuberville said. "Bottom line: No more second chances. I owe it to the city, this university, and this football team to put kids on the field who will do what we ask them to do."