WHEATON – The last time Clayton Thorson was seen in a football uniform, the Wheaton North junior was leaving the field with a broken collarbone Nov. 2 after hauling in a long pass against Prospect in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Now just over six months later, Thorson is nearing 100 percent in his recovery.
"I'm feeling about 90- to 95-percent right about now," said Thorson, who resumed throwing in February and recently wrapped up physical therapy. "I'm just getting back into it, getting back into shape."
A dual-threat quarterback, Thorson was also seeing time at wide receiver for the first time in his career due to the presence of senior signal-caller John Peltz. He remembers initially thinking his injury wasn't a big deal.
"I went down and felt a little discomfort but I just thought that I had hit it pretty hard," he said. "I thought I'd be OK. But when I tried to get up, I felt the bone kind of coming up and I knew we had a little bit of a problem."
Surgery came four days later as a plate and seven screws were put in, followed by a couple months of inactivity before the start of rehab.
One good thing to come out of that downtime was Thorson's announced commitment to Northwestern.
"They were the second team to offer me," said Thorson, who was recruited as a quarterback and received 13 offers in all. "After our third game of the season, when I went to visit, I loved the coaching staff from the beginning. I stayed overnight with a couple of players and saw what life would be like as a Northwestern student and I made the decision I wanted to go there."
One of the players Thorson stayed with was Wheaton Warrenville South graduate Dan Vitale. Former Falcons star Mike Trumpy is also a member of the Wildcats.
"Those two represent what Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South football is about," Thorson said, "and it's great to have them up there."
All in all, the entire Northwestern experience was too good to pass up.
"I always knew I wanted to play in the Big Ten even before Northwestern offered," he said. "Northwestern has a great football program, they won 10 games (last fall) and went to a bowl game. And the academics are second to none."
In the meantime, Thorson is now chomping at the bit to get back to playing, especially after he was also forced to miss the entire basketball season. And he will get his wish soon with summer camp just a few weeks away.
"For sure I'm ready," he said. "I haven't played organized football in a while and it is always fun when a new season comes around."