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Zone read: Former Boise State RB Matt Kaiserman lobbies for concussion guidelines

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

Editor's note: Going to be a little slow on the blog the next few days because of a family emergency. But don't worry, it won't be barren for long.

The Zone Read is your morning college football primer to make you seem like the smartest person at the water cooler even if you're not.

For former Boise State running back Matt Kaiserman, the subject of concussions is personal.

If you search for Kaiserman on YouTube, a video (made by a Utah fan) celebrates Utah defensive back Greg Bird, who lays out Kaiserman during a kickoff return in the 2010 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. The hit was so vicious that his helmet flew off and his facemask broke. Kaiserman was unconscious for several minutes. The hit ended his career and he still has splitting headaches. But it's given him a better appreciation for the severity of head injuries and now he's working as a lobbyist for the NFL's effort to pass head-injury legislation in Idaho.

"It's OK to be tough, but we've got to understand our limits," Kaiserman said Monday. "In no situation should the value of the game be higher than the value of human life."

Dr. Caroline Faure, an Idaho State University professor and concussion expert, said Idaho's proposal would require schools to develop guidelines consistent with those from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will protect young athletes — not just from hyper-competitive coaches or parents reluctant to pull them from games, but also from themselves.

"We need to take those decisions away from the athletes, the coaches and their parents and put them in the hands of health care providers," said Faure, part of a coalition that began advocating for legislation in Idaho in 2009, before the NFL joined the effort. "If we'd had these policies in place already, there are at least two or three cases of catastrophic injury that wouldn't have occurred. Right now, it's a guessing game."

The hit in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas was not Kaiserman's first concussion. He had suffered one previously with the Broncos and several others while in high school that he didn't report.

"The culture of the game, it was about being tough and toughing it out," Kaiserman told Fox 9 News. "I wanted to be the star, I wanted to be out on the field and I didn't realize that I was putting myself at risk of developing what's called Second Impact Syndrome, which 50 percent of the time when that develops it's fatal."

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(Douglas Jones/US Presswire)

Speaking of head injuries…: Nebraska athletics has paired with a University of Nebraska-Lincoln brain researcher to help understand how the brain recovers from serious injury.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents unanimously approved $5 million to help fund a new athletic laboratory, which will not only help Nebraska understand head injuries, but help the entire Big Ten Conference.

Developmental psychologist Dennis Molfese determined that 20-22 football players suffer head injuries each season, which would give him 240 players to study throughout the conference. He also hopes to take pictures of the brains of incoming freshmen and study the changes after hits.

"We're the last university to join the Big Ten, but we're taking the initiative with this," Molfese said. "The level of collaboration is unprecedented."

Laces out: Former Georgia kicker is trying to regain the confidence of NFL scouts after a miserable senior season where he connected on just 21-of-35 field goals and briefly lost his starting role.

"You let it go. It's in the past," Walsh told the Macon Telegraph. "That was the first part of this process, and this is the second part, and I think right now I'm acing the second part. You gotta continue to get better, it's nowhere near done. Plenty of workouts coming. You've gotta be ready for when a team takes you or signs you, you've gotta be ready to go in that camp and succeed."

During Monday's pro day, Walsh made 9-of-10 field goals with a long of 60. And he had an attentive audience, the Jacksonville Jaguars sent their special teams coaches to watch the workout.

Sticky notes: USC receiver Robert Woods had offseason ankle surgery, but that's not going to stop him from participating in spring drills… Maryland president Wallace D. Loh gave coach Randy Edsall the dreaded vote of confidence… Former USC receiver Brice Butler didn't feel appreciated with the Trojans so he transferred to San Diego State… And Urban Meyer still hasn't gotten over that whole unethical recruiting practices thing.

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