Rutgers player, paralyzed from neck down, begins his recovery
Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is recovering from spinal fusion surgery, hoping for a miraculous recovery that will let him walk again after being paralyzed from the neck down in a game Saturday night.
Ben LaSala, LeGrand's coach at Colonia High School in New Jersey visited his former player, who underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine Saturday, at Hackensack University Medical Center.
"He was trying to give me that smile," LaSala said. "He was actually thanking people for coming to visit him. I mean, can you imagine?"
His friends, family and teammates are hoping LeGrand, 20, will be the next Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills tight end who is walking again after suffering a serious spinal injury on a kickoff return in 2007.
At this point, "no one knows," Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano said, what LeGrand's prognosis will be. "Certainly, there's expertise. But I've done a lot of research in the last 24 hours ... and there are enough stories, starting with Adam Taliaferro ... As I talked to our team, we are going to believe that Eric is going to walk onto that field again."
Ten years ago, Taliaferro, a Penn State freshman, was paralyzed from the neck down after a violent hit.
"Right now he's scared and unsure of everything," Taliaferro said of LeGrand. "His life has changed forever. But he needs the support of his friends and family and teammates and he needs to stay positive. There's going to be a lot of negative news out there. He needs to block that out."
Taliaferro underwent surgery to fuse his spine and was walking after eight months of rehab.
"The toughest part immediately is the mental aspect," said Taliaferro, who's now a lawyer in Cherry Hill, N.J. "That's why he's going to need everyone around him to stay positive."
| October 18, 2010; 8:42 AM ET
Categories: College football
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