Southern University player Devon Gales suffered severe spinal fractures to his neck during a college football game against the University of Georgia on Sept. 26 in Athens, Georgia (video below).
Gales (white jersey #33) tucked his head down to block Marshall Morgan (red jersey #13) in the third quarter, and rammed his head into Morgan’s shoulder. Gales was gently carried off the field on a backboard, and taken to the Athens Regional Medical Center.
“Injuries where players tackle in a spearing way, using the top of the helmet to run directly into an opposing player, have been identified as dangerous,” Spinal surgeon Bryan Barnes, who is not involved in Gales' care, told Athens Online. “You want to avoid having your head down and try to keep it up.”
Barnes also said that in these types of injuries it's usually best to have surgery as soon as possible for a better recovery.
The Southern University Athletics website said that Gales underwent "successful spinal surgery" the next day, Sept. 29, and "continues to have movement in his upper body and remains in good spirits."
However, it's not clear if Gales has movement in his lower body.
"I know that [Morgan] went by the hospital to visit the [Gales] family and I think that was really helpful for him," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said during a press conference on Sept. 29, reports 11 Alive. "If he didn't go I don't think any of them would have minded, but I think it was good for him to go and talk to everybody and understand that it's just football."
The Devon Gales Fund has been set up for people to donate to the young man's medical bills.