AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn ended its first spring scrimmage Saturday on a somber note when junior defensive end Antonio Coleman was taken off the field in an ambulance.
Coleman appeared to have been involved in an altercation with left tackle Lee Ziemba that started with the play and continued afterward.
As scary as the moment was for Auburn, players gathered around quietly while he was being attended to and later held a group prayer, it ended on a better note.
Auburn officials said later Saturday afternoon after he had been evaluated by medical personnel that he suffered a cervical sprain.
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According to a University release, Coleman regained full use of his extremities and is expected to make a full recovery.
“It obviously ended on a tough note there,” coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We don’t know what’s wrong with him. He doesn’t have a lot of feeling right now, but it’s starting to come back. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Coleman was injured just before the end of practice and was lying on the ground for 10-15 minutes before an ambulance drove onto the field. Coleman, who was still wearing his helmet, was fitted with a neck brace and put on a straight board then lifted onto a stretcher and placed in the ambulance. He was then taken to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala. At the time of the injury, Tuberville said Coleman was talking and moving some.
“It’s tough,” Tuberville said. “It’s tough to see kids lay there. This is a physical sport. A.C. goes full speed the whole time. You hate to see somebody go off the field like that. He’s a tough kid. He’s one of the leaders of this group. You can’t speculate on what’s wrong, but things like that sometimes happen.”
Several players on the field at the time said Coleman screamed in pain, then got quiet.
“All I saw was him go down, and I didn’t see any emotion on his face,” right guard Byron Isom said. “I said a prayer real quick because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. He was screaming at first. After that, he got real quiet. His breathing was really fast. I think he was more just shocked and nervous.”
The moment left Coleman’s teammates concerned and hopeful for a quick recovery.
“It’s always scary, even, if it’s not a teammate,” receiver Robert Dunn said. “You don’t really wish that on anybody. Hopefully, everything turns out great.”
It was a tough day all around for the Tigers as running back Mario Fannin was helped off the field after a big hit. Tuberville said it was a shoulder injury. Tuberville also announced that wide receiver Tim Hawthorne would miss the remainder of the spring after breaking his arm in Friday’s practice.