Auburn safety Zac Etheridge says he's been cleared medically to play

Auburn safety Zac Etheridge, who suffered a scary neck injury last fall that put his football-playing career in jeopardy, said he's been cleared medically to play this season.

Etheridge announced the news first on Twitter and later in a Facebook post.

"I am VERY excited to announce that your very own #4 will be returning to the field this season with all of my love and passion for auburn football!!!!!" he wrote on his Facebook wall.

Etheridge injured his neck last Oct. 31 against Ole Miss, jamming his helmet into teammate Antonio Coleman's shoulder pad while trying to make a tackle. He tore ligaments in his neck and cracked the C5 vertebrae, requiring a lengthy rehabilitation program but no surgery.

He did not participate in contact drills during the spring and went through a round of medical tests Tuesday before being cleared.

A senior, Etheridge has started 33 games during his career and has made 192 tackles.