NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) - Less than a year after a gruesome knee injury made Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux face the possibility of never playing football again, he's talking about starting the first game of the season for the Bearcats.
Legaux is overly optimistic, but who could blame him?
Considering how far he has come since tearing two ligaments and cartilage in his left knee when he took a low, twisting hit during the second game of last season against Illinois, his positive attitude is understandable.
''Right now in my recovery I'm about 85, 90 percent, in that range,'' Legaux said Tuesday during American Athletic Conference media day. ''I'm not cleared to play yet, but I can do things with the team, full activities with the team.
''As far as just coming back, my expectation is to be out there the first game, starting quarterback, leading the team and being Munchie. Making those plays, making those throws. Helping my team the way that I can, being the leader, the overall leader, the quarterback of the team.''
The senior from New Orleans with the memorable name and exciting game has not yet been cleared to play, but he can drop back and throw. He's not running as fast and able to change direction as quickly as did before the injury, but it's coming.
His approach is: ''Let's see where this can go.''
''That's where we're at right now,'' he said. ''Let's see if we can go out there and participate in the full team activities. Let's see if we can drop back and throw a ball. Let's see if we can make a read and run. We just taking it day by day right now.''
Coach Tommy Tuberville has more realistic expectations for Legaux, but even those have changed since the NCAA granted the quarterback an extra season of eligibility.
''I didn't think anything about it because I knew it was going to be an uphill battle,'' Tuberville said of the waiver. ''I thought he'd be about 60 percent to this point and maybe have a chance to get a couple games in at the end of the year.
''Now we're to the point where he's throwing, he's running. We're not going to hit him. He's got to get over that (mental) hurdle. I think he's going to have a chance to help us.''
Legaux said he's about 205 pounds, only about five below what he played at last season, and can squat more than 300 pounds, which is more than he could before the injury.
He credits his teammates with helping him to stay positive and never allowing him to feel as if he wasn't part of the team. Wide receiver Max Morrison would insist that Legaux show up when the team held informal workouts, even though he couldn't participate.
''He would text me `Where are you? Why weren't you there today?' I'm like, Max, I can't walk. What do you mean? I'm on crutches. He was like, `I don't care. You're the quarterback. You're the leader.''
Legaux was wearing two big and bright Big East conference championship rings at media day. The Bearcats are favored to win the league again. Regardless of whether he can play when the Bearcats finally get their season started on Sept. 12, Legaux will be a contributor this season.
''It's great to see him come back from what he's been through with the same mindset,'' defensive back Adrian Witty said. ''Still loving the game.''