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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published September 03 2013

Jones back on the field for Gophers after another knee injury

MINNEAPOLIS – Marcus Jones has made quick work of both of his recoveries from knee repair surgery.

He’s as about fast at rehabilitating as he is on the field, and he showed plenty of speed for Minnesota in the opener. The junior cornerback helped the Gophers pull away from UNLV by returning the second half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, signaling his successful triumph over a second anterior cruciate ligament tear.

“That was a huge booster to my confidence,” Jones said.

He wasn’t so sure last fall.

As a freshman, Jones tore his ACL in practice and missed the last five weeks of the season. After surgery in early November, he was back at spring practice in March.

Then in a game at Nebraska last November, Jones suffered to the same injury. On the other leg.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m in the right place. I don’t know if this college football thing is for me,’” Jones said. “But you think about it, and all the work you put in, and you can’t let it go to waste. You’re like, ‘All right. I’ve got to get back into it someway somehow.’”

Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he wasn’t worried Jones would be back.

“Life’s about your attitude when stuff doesn’t go quite right. He was down like anybody for a couple of days, but then he went to work,” Kill said, suggesting Jones could be quicker now than when he first arrived two years ago out of Wake Forest, N.C.

“Most of the time you lose a step or two,” the coach said.

Jones wasn’t buying it.

“Does it look like I have?” he said, smiling wide on Thursday night after Minnesota’s 51-23 victory.

By Tuesday afternoon, the focus had turned to New Mexico State, this week’s opponent, but Jones was being asked anew about his secret to rehab success.

The only way Jones could explain his swift recovery was to credit the team’s athletic trainers, strength coaches and medical staff.

“I really don’t have a special formula for it. I don’t have any cool Adrian Peterson stuff. I just know it happened, and I’m thankful for it,” he said.