One of the top quarterback prospects in Virginia is facing a difficult and uncertain future that will almost certainly not include college football after he was forced to amputate part of one of his legs at a hospital in suburban Washington, D.C.
As first reported by the Charlottesville Daily Progress, Woodberry Forest (Va.) School quarterback Jacob Rainey had part of one of his legs amputated on Saturday, just more than a week after he suffered a freak injury in a final preseason football scrimmage at Flint Hill (Va.) High.
According to the Daily Progress, Rainey suffered a broken knee cap when he was cleanly tackled from behind by a Mercersburg (Va.) High player (the scrimmage was played between Woodberry and Mercersburg but was held in Flint Hill). After he arrived at the nearest hospital, doctors discovered that he had suffered other complications from the injury, most drastically a ruptured blood vessel.
In a statement released by Woodberry Forest officials it was revealed that Rainey was moved to Fairfax Inova hospital when his condition failed to improve. There, Inova doctors determined that he had severed the main artery in one of his legs and that he had to immediately undergo vascular surgery to avoid further serious health issues. The only solution was to amputate part of one of his legs, a procedure which was carried out on Saturday, just a day after Woodberry Forest opened the season with a 16-13 victory at Richmond (Va.) Benedictine High without its expected starting quarterback.
Woodberry coach Clinton Alexander was given the unenviable task of telling the rest of the team that Rainey would have to lose part of his leg, a job which immediately transformed the program's buoyant mood following its season-opening victory to a somber discussion of how the team could keep Rainey -- one of the top junior quarterback prospects in the state who was being recruited by a number of ACC programs -- involved in their season.
Alexander said that his team was still dealing with the shock of learning that one of their closest friends had suffered such a dramatic injury on the field, though he said that the close ties that made them particularly sensitive to his injury also will help the team move on from it.
"I have had situations in my career were we have had a player's parent pass away during the season and have had two players on two different teams die in a car accident, but nothing like this," Alexander told Prep Rally in an email.
"Our players love Jacob very much and were very upset when it happened and were very worried about him after he was taken to the hospital. Our team is very close, one of the benefits of a boarding school football program. They get so much time together on dorm that the depth of the relationships they form is quite amazing. This has certainly helped our players understand how important it is to care about each other and attempt to overcome adversity together."
One of the ways Woodberry Forest plans to memorialize their missing leader is by passing around his jersey number each week. In the team's first game at Benedictine, Rainey's closest friend, Nate Ripper, wore his number 9 jersey. In each subsequent week for the remainder of the season, a different player will don it to honor Rainey's place with the program.
Fittingly, Rainey will even be part of the group that decides which player wears his own jersey each week.
"One of our parents gave us the idea to allow a different player each week to wear Jacob's number 9 jersey in each game so he will be with us," Alexander told Prep Rally. "Our leadership committee which Jacob is part of makes the decision."
Sadly, Rainey isn't the first prep football victim to have to undergo such a drastic surgery in the past calendar year. In October 2010, McLouth (Kan.) High's star running back Trevor Roberts had to have the lower segment of his left leg removed after it became infected following a compound break in a game.
Amazingly, the Daily Progress reported that Rainey remained in high spirits despite the tragic circumstances that have befallen him. It seems unlikely that he will continue to garner the kind of recruiting interest he had attracted to this point, but he can at least rest easy knowing that one of the programs which had forged a bond with him was thinking about him just after his operation.
"A young man playing at Woodberry Forest suffered a tragic thing where he lost his leg," Virginia coach Mike London said in his weekly press conference Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Woodberry Forest football family and to this young man's family in particular. Wins and losses are important, but sometimes the realities of what's really important are the young men and the family members and the sons that we are responsible for."