UCLA and Memphis, one of the afternoon’s marquee games, came to a dramatic halt late in the first half when a kick return gave way to a terrifying block on one of the Tigers.
Freshman linebacker JJ Russell was carted off on a stretcher after taking a hit while racing down the field on the coverage team. You can see him take a hard hit and fall at the 15-yard line.
ABC reported that Russell was OK and the Tigers were taking caution with him. Additionally, the Commercial Appeal is reporting a school spokesperson said Russell was moving when taken off the field. The ABC broadcast showed Russell moving his legs.
Good news here: Mike Norvell said he was able to speak to JJ Russell at halftime. "Obviously he took a big hit, but he'll be fine."
— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) September 16, 2017
It’s a very fortunate outcome for what seemingly could’ve been a lot worse.
Kick returns remain one of — if not the most — dangerous plays in football at any level. Asking collegiate athletes to run full speed at each other results in some horrific moments and watching Russell writhe on the ground after taking the hit only reinforced that notion.
Again, this has become way too common on kickoffs. While you don’t want to lose sight of what Russell is going through, each incident like this makes you wonder just how much longer this aspect of the game will be tolerated.
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