After his 2008 season ended in pain against Missouri in the Alamo Bowl, Corey Wootton will make his return to the football field in a limited role at Northwestern's training camp.
The 2008 first-team All-Big Ten selection shredded the ACL in his right knee during Northwestern's 30-23 loss in their first bowl game since 2005.
As Camp Kenosha, the 'Cats unrequited affectionate term for their preseason home, approached, Wootton status remained uncertain.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald confirmed this morning at Big Ten media day in Chicago that the rising senior is ready to lace up his cleats.
"I fully anticipate Corey being full-go in camp," Fitzgerald said. "We'll probably have him go two out of three practices, at least initially to start."
Wootton was cleared by the Northwestern medical staff earlier in the month to begin strength and conditioning drills. The 6'7" defensive end's progress bodes well for a Northwestern defense that surprised its Big Ten opponents in 2008.
Holding opponents to just over 20 points a game, the Wildcats registered a conference high 34 sacks last year with Wootton recording 10 of those 34. A return opposite breakout performer Vince Browne and seven starters, including three preseason All-Big Ten selections, should translate to continued improvement under defensive maestro Mike Hankwitz.
Northwestern opens its 2009 season at home against Towson.