EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was hospitalized after sustaining a neck injury while making a vicious tackle on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter against Army on Saturday.
LeGrand lay on the field for about five minutes after making the tackle with the game tied at 17 and 5:10 to play.
A backboard was placed under his back and he was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center. His condition was not immediately available after Rutgers’ 23-20 win in overtime.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano went over and talked to his family in the stands, and later appeared in the post-game interview room with red eyes, looking as if he had been crying. He said he was going to the hospital after his interviews.
“It’s all tough stuff, yes,” Schiano said. “When you coach these kids, they’re your kids. That is the thing I don’t know if everybody gets. It’s not pro football. Those are your kids. You’re raising them. You’re finishing the job for their parents, so it’s tough.”
Schiano said federal laws prevented him from disclosing LeGrand’s condition.
The charge nurse in the emergency room, who only identified herself as Denise, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she could not provide any information on LeGrand.
LeGrand, an Avenel resident who played at Colonia High School, was injured making a tackle on Malcolm Brown at the Army 25. He seemed to move his head immediately after the play but did not move after that as trainers from Rutgers (4-2) rushed the field to attend to him.
Schiano trotted to the spot where LeGrand was being treated and Army coach Rich Ellerson later joined the Scarlet Knights’ coach on the field, touching his shoulder to comfort him.
Players from both teams took a knee while LeGrand was being treated.
Fellow defensive tackle Charlie Noonan said Schiano reminded the team it had to finish the game.
“We all love Eric and he’s in our prayers,” Noonan said. “We went out and played for Eric. We had to stay in the moment, stay in the now and realize that it was the Army game and that was still right here.”
Still, it was hard to celebrate after rallying for the second straight week to win.
“It’s always good to get a victory but, to be honest with you, it’s overshadowed right now by Eric,” Noonan said.
Keith Stroud, whose 6-yard reception in overtime gave Rutgers a first down at the 3 and set up Joe Martinek’s winning 1-yard run, said it was devastating to see LeGrand injured.
“All that ran through our minds was ‘Is he OK?'” Stroud said. “All we could have done was come home with the W and I know he’ll be happy to hear that. We came in the same class and it was devastating to see him go down. It’s real hard to handle it.”
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