Hokie fans watched silently on Nov. 8 as Michael Cole lay motionless on the field after a collision with a Florida State player. Lane Stadium was as quiet as it has ever been for a good 20 minutes while the game was delayed to make sure Cole was alright and eventually cart him off the field. Thankfully, Cole did not suffer any permanent paralysis from the injury, which was diagnosed as a neck sprain.
Unfortunately news from the last 24 hours has revealed that Cole's football career is over after that injury and a series of previous stingers. Cole missed the last three games after the injury, including the Hokies Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl win over Rutgers.
In an interview with the media earlier today, Cole expressed concern over re-injury, and said that both his doctors and family advised against returning to the field. He could have undergone a complicated surgery to repair his neck, but said that the doctors advised against it. Cole already underwent an initial surgery to relieve pressure in his neck on Jan. 2, as Virginia Tech team physician Dr. Mark Rogers said "Unfortunately, he was still having some persistent symptoms, so he underwent surgery on his neck. He has recovered well and he will continue rehabilitation. We expect him to make a full recovery." Cole said that at the point of the surgery, he knew it would be the end of his football career, so this has been in the making for quite some time now.
According to Hokiesports.com:
"After consulting with doctors and the training staff at Virginia Tech, it was determined that Cole should not continue to play football due to a higher risk of further injury to his neck and spine. Per NCAA rules, Cole qualifies for a medical disqualification and will remain on scholarship, although the scholarship does not count toward Tech’s limit of 85."
Cole's decision complicates things further in the secondary on an otherwise nearly sterling returning defense. Often the weakest unit of the Hokies defense a year ago, with injuries sustained by Antone Exum and now Cole, the quality of the secondary to open the season is cast into doubt.
Cole was hit or miss early on in the season, and those struggles continued into the middle of the season. But it was clear he was progressing and had a future as a member of the Tech secondary. Or as Hokiesports puts it:
"Cole, from Roanoke, Va., played in 10 games this past season as a redshirt freshman, making four starts as the nickel back. He earned Academic All-District honors and was an honorable mention Freshman All-American by CFN.com after making 43 tackles and recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He led the team with 11 tackles, including one for a 3-yard loss, at North Carolina and recovered a fumble and returned an interception 12 yards against Duke. He also had five tackles and an interception at Clemson."
Here is the official press release from Hokiesports.
Obviously we wish Michael the best in his recovery, and with his future.
Sad that Michael Cole had to give up football b/c of his neck injury, but he plans on working in sports med. Wants to be a doctor— Jimmy Robertson (@jrobIHS) February 15, 2013
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