Despite an opening week 24-12 loss, Tulane Green Wave fans like me are optimistic about the future. New head coach Curtis Johnson has energized the fan base as he looks to turn around the school's football program. But Tulane's performance became insignificant on Saturday after a Green Wave player suffered a serious injury.
On the last play of the first half, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane tried to increase its lead with one final play. As Willie Carter went to the ground, Green Wave players Julius Warmsley and Devon Walker collided on a helmet-to-helmet hit. Walker, a safety, got the worst of the collision with the much larger defensive tackle.
I have seen far too many of these situations in football. But after several minutes, I realized this was not a typical injury. The university later revealed that Devon Walker had stopped breathing and was resuscitated by CPR. Walker also reportedly suffered a broken neck, a cervical spine fracture, a collapsed lung, and received a tracheotomy.
I know most fans snicker when the term "student athlete" is applied to college football players. But Devon Walker is truly a student first and an athlete second. As a graduate of Tulane University's Class of 1994, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of Green Wave athletes truly are outstanding students.
Devon Walker majors in molecular and cell biology. As proof that academics are Walker's priority, he was a walk-on for three years at Tulane before finally earning an athletic scholarship his senior year. In fact, Walker turned down scholarship offers to smaller schools so he could pursue the outstanding education that Tulane offers.
I had a difficult time watching the second half of Tulane's game against Tulsa. My thoughts and prayers were with Devon as the action continued on the field. I thought the FOX Sports crew did a great job of balancing the play-by-play with the gravity of Walker's situation. And the Tulsa players and coaches also showed a lot of class.
The thoughts and prayers of all Green Wave fans, alumni, and others are with you, Devon. You exemplify the excellence that is Tulane University. Stay strong.
Patrick Michael is a lifelong, diehard Tulane Green Wave fan. In 1994, he achieved his dream of graduating from Tulane University with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics. Patrick's greatest Green Wave memory is the 1998 season when Tulane went undefeated. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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