Ole Miss tight end Damarcus Thomas sustained a serious injury that left him motionless and without feeling for several minutes, coach Lane Kiffin revealed on Monday. Practice was stopped immediately and an ambulance was called, and the crew determined that Thomas required to be airlifted to a hospital as a result of the injury.
The school announced later Monday afternoon that Thomas has made progress since being airlifted and is being released from the hospital after his tests came back normal.
"Following the injury at practice this morning, Damarcus traveled by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford and was airlifted from there to Memphis Regional Medical Center, " said Pat Jernigan, assistant athletic director for sports medicine. "Evaluations have been positive to this point. He has regained movement in all of his extremities and the physicians are optimistic."
The specific circumstances surrounding the injury have not been made public, but running back Jerrion Ealy told reporters as much as he could about what happened to Thomas on Monday.
"It was just a normal football play," Ealy said. "A freak accident. We're praying for DJ (DaMarcus Thomas). Hopefully he has a speedy recovery. We're just all praying for him, and we really hope to have him back soon."
The injury was so difficult to witness that it shook Kiffin to the core.
"This is not something normal, he said. "To hear a player that you recruited ... they keep touching him, 'Do you feel this? Do you fell this?' And he keeps saying no. You're thinking of the kid. I don't know. That's the first time I've seen something...I just called [Kiffin's son] Knox's mom and said I could care less if he ever plays football, ever, after seeing that."
Kiffin immediately canceled practice prior to briefly talking to reporters.
"I don't think there was any way to practice, you know, seeing what we saw," he said. "I don't think anybody's even thinking about it. I couldn't care less."
Thomas is a freshman from Saraland, Alabama. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder has appeared in five games this season.