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Ole Miss’ Thomas airlifted to hospital after suffering severe injury at practice

By Jake Thompson
The Oxford Eagle

Ole Miss freshman tight end Demarcus Thomas suffered a serious injury during the Rebels’ Monday morning practice.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin shared the information during his regular Monday press conference following the practice, and initially described the injury as potentially paralyzing. In a statement later Monday afternoon, Pat Jernigan, Ole Miss’ assistant athletic director for sports medicine, said Thomas had regained movement in his arms and legs.

“Evaluations have all been positive to this point,” Jernigan said. “He has regained movement in all of his extremities, and the physicians are optimistic.”

Accoding to Kiffin, Thomas had no movement or feeling in his body immediately after the hit. As medical personnel checked Thomas, touching him in different spots on his body, he would tell them he could not feel them touching him.

Thomas was placed on a helicopter and airlifted to Memphis for further evaluation and care, and during that time Thomas began to experience some feelings and movement in his body. Thomas’ family was notified of his injury immediately after practice.

“Before he was taken away, DaMarcus did have some movement and has some feeling in his body,” Kiffin said in an update after his initial press conference. “Great news, I don’t know what that means exactly. (But it’s) great news compared to 20 minutes ago.”

The injury occurred midway through the Rebels’ practice. Practice did not resume after Thomas was taken to the helicopter. Kiffin said he had never been a part of something like that in person and had only seen something like what transpired on television.

Coming out of Saraland High School in Whatley, Ala., Thomas was ranked as the No. 13 tight end and No. 13 overall recruit in Alabama by Rivals.com. He has played in five of the Rebels’ six games this season.

“I’ve got to answer questions and do my job, but nothing seems very important right now,” Kiffin said. “I don’t think there was any way to practice after seeing what we saw. Coaches want to get the reps, and all those things, but I could care less. A player you recruited, any player, but one you recruited … This was not something normal.”