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Utah defensive lineman's condition upgraded from critical to good less than two weeks after serious head injury

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Oct 12, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; A general view of Rice-Eccles Stadium during the second half of a game between the Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinal. Utah defeated Stanford 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Less than two weeks after suffering a serious head injury in a motorized bike accident, Utah defensive lineman Moana Ofahengaue’s condition has been upgraded from critical to good.

According to FOX 13 News in Salt Lake City, Ofahengaue is walking and talking just 11 days after being unresponsive in his hospital bed.

Though he is still wearing a device to “stabilize his head and monitor his brain for swelling,” Ofahengaue said he is “ready to go home.”

His parents were unsure he was going to pull through when they first saw their son’s condition.

“I broke down into tears when I saw this guy laying there,” his mother, Carey, said. “We didn’t know. He wasn’t awake yet. We didn’t know how his brain would be.”

There were concerns that the accident would leave Ofahengaue paralyzed or with permanent brain damage. Ofahengaue was not wearing a helmet when a car pulled out in front of him when the incident took place on February 23. Ofahengaue managed to avoid the car but said “the wheel swerved and (he) flipped off of it” and he hit his head on the pavement.

Doctors have been impressed with Ofahengaue’s quick recovery to this point and Ofahengaue is “determined to play football again.”

“The doctors are saying they don’t know if they want to suggest ever going back to head-to-head contact, but I’ll definitely be back soon,” Ofahengaue said. “There’s still brain damage, it’s time I have to wait for, to heal. Right now, I just can’t wait to get back. That’s like the only thing I’m thinking about, how bad I want to be on the field, and it’s more than how bad this hurts.”

Ofahengaue, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound freshman, was a three-star recruit and a member of Utah’s 2012 recruiting class.

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