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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Cory Elmore follows his heart

Cory Elmore Football
Cory Elmore Football

Nearly four years ago, Cory Elmore sat in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles as he watched his football career vanish before his eyes.  

During a routine checkup, doctors found a hole in his heart, and surgery was the only sensible option for the 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman whose father passed away during Cory Elmore’s childhood due to heart problems.

His life path was thrown off course, and it appeared Cory Elmore — who redshirted his freshman season at Arizona in 2006 — would never play a down of collegiate football in a life that was consumed by the sport.

“”I was pretty much kicked out of a sport that I loved, because of something that was out of my control,”” said Cory Elmore, the twin brother of former standout Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore. “”It was like a slap in the face.””

But after almost four years away from the game, a bodybuilding stint and endless hours in the gym, the 23-year-old has transformed into a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end, working his way toward an improbable return to football.

Cory Elmore’s been cleared to resume football activities and is training with his brother, former Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, Clay Matthews Sr. and a handful of NFL prospects at Proactive Sports Performance in California.

He said he’s “”in the best shape of (his) life,”” and it showed at Arizona’s pro day in March.

“”He did our pro day and just blew it up,”” Ricky Elmore said of his brother after he tried to get noticed as a possible special teams player. “”A lot of teams liked him, the only thing he didn’t have was film. The best thing he has going for him is that he can longsnap better than the longsnappers we had at U of A. It’s ridiculous.””

His parents are urging him to make a run at the NFL, and he even came close to signing a few arena league contracts. But Cory Elmore isn’t looking for a minimum contract or a roster spot, he’s yearning for the college football experience that his heart complications eliminated.

“”I’m not chasing money. I want to have the experience of playing college football,”” he said. “”I just got robbed of that experience.””

The Simi Valley, Calif., native took the first step in his quest to return to college football when he committed to play for Moorpark College, a community college in California, in the fall.

The newly chiseled defensive end has been practicing with Moorpark for weeks and, according to him, is averaging “”at least 10 plus sacks”” per practice. But the junior college program is only a pit stop on the way to his ultimate goal — Arizona.

“”At pro day I realized I want to go back to U of A,”” he said. “”If they don’t want me there, that’s going to suck because I bleed red and blue. I’m a Wildcat for the rest of my life. I love Arizona. I realistically think I can put a lot on the table for that school.””

He said he found out about two weeks ago that there’s a bylaw saying if a player misses more than two years of competition due to an incapacitating injury, that player is eligible to regain those years of eligibility if he appeals.

Because of the severity of his injury, he’s confident he can recapture two years of eligibility.

“”People are getting years back for broken ankles or blown out knees,”” he said. “”A blown out knee is pretty severe, but a broken ankle? That’s stupid. I had open-heart surgery when I was 18. I just need someone to be willing to fight for me.””

If Cory Elmore’s dream scenario comes true, he’ll play his junior and senior years in Tucson and finally get to experience what his brother went through.  

He never went on a road trip, built camaraderie with his teammates or battled the constant love/hate relationship with grueling practices — and if he never gets the chance to, he’ll regret it forever.

“”If I don’t get this time back I will probably regret this for the rest of my life,”” he said. “”I will probably regret even getting the heart surgery when potentially that could kill me and I’ll regret that.””

But make no mistake about it, Cory Elmore doesn’t want to simply eat up a roster spot and reap the benefits of being a college athlete. He’s working toward building his own legacy as a Wildcat.

“”I don’t just want to be another person in a jersey. I want to stand out wherever I go,”” he said. “”I don’t want to stand out just because I have long hair. I want to stand out because the quarterback’s on the ground and I’m stopping the run for negative yards.””

The motivated defensive end said if he was able to return to Arizona, he’d wear his brother’s former number and play as a Ricky Elmore/Brooks Reed hybrid.

“”I’ll wear 44 but I’ll have the Brooks Reed hair,”” Cory Elmore said with a laugh. “”I’ll have the size and speed of Brooks and the sackmaster ability of Rick.””

A lot has to happen before Cory Elmore can achieve his goal, but considering where he was almost four years ago, he has much to be proud of as he turns to a new chapter of his life.

“”It’s pretty freaky how he’s transformed his body,”” Reed said of Cory Elmore, the formerly overweight offensive lineman. “”He’s a good athlete too. I’m sure he didn’t realize until he lost all that weight, but he’s right up there with Ricky (Elmore). It’s brave of him to start playing again given the circumstances.””

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