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OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi freshman tight end Damarcus Thomas had to be helicoptered to a hospital on Monday morning after sustaining an injury in practice that left him motionless and without feeling in his body for several minutes, coach Lane Kiffin told media on Monday.
Thomas, a tight end from Whatley, Alabama, couldn’t move or feel any sensations for a long period of time. Kiffin said Thomas ultimately did regain some movement and feeling before he was helicoptered away.
Mississippi assistant athletics director of sports medicine Pat Jernigan provided some good news Monday evening when he announced that Thomas was being released from the hospital after all his medical tests came back “normal.”
“Damarcus is doing well,” Jernigan said in a statement. “Our physicians will be following up with him in the coming days for further evaluation.”
In an earlier update, Jernigan said Thomas had regained movement in his extremities and “physicians are optimistic.”
“Obviously hopefully this is some severe stinger,” Kiffin said earlier Monday. “I did ask them, the medical staff. They said that that does happen sometimes. I’m just praying that that’s somehow what it is.”
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Kiffin said he’s never seen an injury like this in his lifetime in football. Kiffin ended practice immediately after the injury and the entire team and coaching staff waited outside with Thomas until an ambulance arrived.
The ambulance took Thomas to Oxford’s Baptist Memorial Hospital, the school said. He was then airlifted to Memphis Regional Medical Center due to the severity of the injury.
“They keep touching him going ‘Do you feel this? Do you feel this?’ He keeps saying no,” Kiffin said. “And you’re thinking about your own kid. I don’t know. That’s the first time I’d seen something where I just called [Kiffin’s son] Knox’s mom and said I couldn’t care less whether he ever plays football ever after seeing that.”
Running back Jerrion Ealy said the injury happened on a “normal football play” that combined with a “freak accident.” Watching the aftermath of the injury unfold left Ealy speechless.
“We’re all just in shock,” Ealy said. I can’t really say too much about it because it’s just shocking. It’s one of those freak accidents that happens on a football field that you only hear about and you never see. It’s kind of eye-opening.”
Thomas has played in five of Mississippi’s six games this season but has yet to record a statistic. He was rated as a three-star in the 247 Sports composite rankings and chose Ole Miss after considering Tennessee, Southern Miss and Army.