Jared Turcotte enrolled at the University of Maine in 2007 with aspirations of parlaying his considerable football talents into a professional career.
Along the way, the former Lewiston High School star and Fitzpatrick Trophy winner has been plagued by injuries.
Finally, Turcotte has decided to concentrate on his goal of becoming a doctor.
Turcotte on Thursday revealed he has decided to give up football and begin working toward getting into medical school. That will include transferring next fall to Bates College in his home town of Lewiston.
“I made my decision earlier this week,” Turcotte said. “I went in and talked to coach Cos (UMaine football Jack Cosgrove). I told him it would be better for me to try to transfer to a different school and just concentrate on going to school.”
“It’s a decision that has been really well thought out on his end,” Cosgrove said. “It’s practical. We wish it didn’t have to be that way.”
Last season, Turcotte appeared in only six games for the Black Bears before sitting out after re-aggravating an injury to his left knee. In December, he underwent a second surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the knee.
It was his third knee procedure overall and his fifth surgical procedure since going to UMaine. He had surgery to repair two sports hernias in 2009.
“Obviously he had some gifts, but the problem that he obviously ran into was his health,” Cosgrove said. “It came maybe through his style of play that his body wasn’t able to hold up as well as we would have liked.”
Realizing his battered body would not allow him to pursue his NFL dream, Turcotte knew the time had come to cut his losses.
“You can only take a shot at the NFL once,” he explained. “You can’t take that for granted. Your body will break down, like mine has started to, and eventually you’re going to have to hang the cleats up, but you can always fall back on your education.”
Turcotte enrolled at UMaine with the intention of pursuing a pre-med curriculum but wound up majoring in kinesiology (the study of movement) instead.
That track did not meet many of the requirements for students who wish to pursue a career in medicine. He conceded having chosen that major in an effort to lessen the academic stress and enable him to balance classes and what amounts to a full-time job as a Division I football player.
When looking into medical school entrance standards, Turcotte learned his chances of being accepted would be significantly enhanced by attending Bates, a small but highly regarded liberal arts college.
“There’s like a 50 percent greater chance matriculating from Bates than matriculating from Maine,” explained Turcotte, who said after completing the spring semester at UMaine he will be within one semester of earning his undergraduate degree.
However, Turcotte was headed for Lewiston on Thursday to speak with people at Bates about transferring. He has already applied there for 2011-12.
“I don’t have a bad grade point average right now, but I have to get it up a little to get into medical school,” he added.
If accepted at Bates, Turcotte would be at home with his mother, Nadine, and his siblings. That would provide a further support system for his wife, Allysha, and their daughter, Aiva, who is almost 5 months old.
He is unsure about how many of his UMaine credits will be transferable.
Turcotte appeared in only 19 games in parts of two seasons at UMaine. He redshirted his first season, then returned in 2008 to earn All-America second-team honors from The Sports Network and a spot on the All-Colonial Athletic Association first team.
That season, the versatile running back rushed for 625 yards on 105 carries and scored seven touchdowns while making 25 receptions for 285 yards and another score. His efforts helped the Bears reach the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, where they lost at Northern Iowa.
“There were times during the course of that year where it was hard to get him from one game to the next,” Cosgrove said. “We were very selective with what he could do.”
Last fall, Turcotte rushed 99 times for 452 yards and three TDs and caught 13 passes for 89 yards. His last appearance came Oct. 16 against Villanova.
He’ll miss the game and playing alongside his teammates, but he won’t miss the nagging aches and pains that come with playing football.
“It wasn’t an easy [decision], but it was one that I felt had to be made,” Turcotte said.
At Lewiston High, Turcotte rushed for 4,562 career yards and racked up 554 tackles under coach Bill County. He also was the state champion in the long jump.
Turcotte hopes to be able to remain in contact with athletes in the future and draw upon his experiences.
“I want to do orthopedic surgery,” he said. “I feel like with my situation and how I’ve been kind of unlucky in that department with all my surgeries, it would be kind of fitting for me to tryto help and prevent other athletes from ending up like I am right now.”