CINCINNATI (AP) — Munchie Legaux returned to Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, this time throwing passes with his eye on an NFL career.
One year ago, he didn’t think he’d get the chance.
The former University of Cincinnati quarterback was among 25 draft-eligible players who worked out for the Bengals on Wednesday. Legaux also will work out for the New Orleans Saints — his hometown team — later in the week.
Legaux overcame a gruesome knee injury and extended his college career after doctors initially feared he’d never play again. Given what happened, Legaux is grateful to even get considered by the NFL.
"Honestly, I thought everybody was going to write me off — he had a knee injury, he didn’t start this year," Legaux said. "Here I am today and I’m thankful for the opportunity."
Legaux was Cincinnati’s starting quarterback in 2013. During the second game, he got hit on his left leg as he threw a pass. The ligaments and cartilage were so severely damaged that doctors initially told him that he might never play again.
He decided to try anyway and made a faster-than-expected recovery. The knee was strong enough to help him win the backup job last season behind Gunner Kiel. Legaux got into seven games and completed 66 percent of his passes for for 574 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
His greatest moment came during a 34-17 win over South Florida at Paul Brown Stadium. He took over when Kiel got hurt and completed 14 of 15 passes for 121 yards.
He also ran 9 yards for his first touchdown of the season, sliding on his knees at the back of the end zone and putting his head to the turf in an emotional moment. Coaches and teammates wiped away tears on the sideline.
When the season ended, he wasn’t sure any NFL team would show an interest. The fact that two of them invited him for workouts was encouraging.
"To come back from the injury I had and feel the way I do now, I feel pretty confident I can play on the next level," he said. "I’m not as fast as I used to be, but I’m still mobile and I can still throw the football."
His workout on Wednesday felt a bit like a homecoming. The Bearcats played their home games at Paul Brown Stadium last season while their on-campus stadium was rebuilt, so Legaux was very familiar with the field. Also, a dozen former Bearcat teammates were invited to the workout.
Up next is a tryout Friday in New Orleans with the Saints.
"I still live in New Orleans," he said. "I’m still eating home-cooked gumbo. To grow up watching that team, knowing everything about them, I’m excited for the opportunity. Hopefully I’ll go and put on a good show."
When his playing career is over, Legaux plans to start coaching. He coached other Bearcats players during his long rehabilitation from the knee injury.
"It’s like mentoring," Legaux said. "I like to help others become better. I’ve been through it all — tough injuries, ups and downs. I want to share my dreams and goals with others."