Tulane safety Devon Walker was in stable condition after suffering a broken neck during a head-to-head collision with a teammate Saturday against Tulsa, an incident so frightening that several Green Wave coaches were in tears as he was carted off the field.
Walker was immediately given CPR on the field and immobilized. He will undergo surgery in the next few days, after severe swelling is diminished.
Tulane’s team doctor, Greg Stewart, told The New Orleans Times-Picayune that the player had some feeling in his arms and legs and that the possibility of paralysis was still unknown. Stewart told the newspaper that doctors would need more time to determine the extent of his injury.
CPR was done as a precautionary measure, Stewart said.
“He did not drop a lung,” Stewart said, according to The Times-Picayune. “Was there CPR done? Did we do chest compressions? Yes. But it was one of those things where once we got him hooked up to the monitor, his blood pressure was low so it was hard to feel the blood pressure and we didn’t have anything — he wasn’t hooked up to an EKG, wasn’t hooked up to an AED.
“When we first got out there and were dealing with him, we didn’t have any equipment so it’s all about what you can feel through sweat and gloves and all that kind of stuff. So, yes we did (do CPR) because we figured we would rather err on the side on doing compressions when we didn’t need to as opposed to not doing them and wishing we had.”
The injury occurred on the final play of the first half. Tulsa was leading 35-3 and facing a fourth-and-2 with the ball at the 33-yard line on Saturday when the Golden Hurricane called timeout. Tulane then called timeout.
When play resumed, Tulsa quarterback Cody Green tossed a short pass to Willie Carter who caught it at about the 28, and turned upfield. He was tackled around the 17-yard line, with defensive tackle Julius Warmsley and Walker sandwiching him and apparently smashing their helmets into each other.
Medical personnel from both teams attended Walker as he lay on the field. Fox Sports reported a hush went over the crowd at H.A. Chapman Stadium as Walker was attended to, and that several coaches were in tears as he was taken away in an ambulance. Spectators bowed their heads as someone on the field led the stadium in prayer.