Reality check: Fear not a problem after LaMarcus Thompson's scary hit

Tennessee linebacker LaMarcus Thompson is attended to by a member of UT’s medical staff after taking a hit against Ole Miss on Nov. 14.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee linebacker LaMarcus Thompson is attended to by a member of UT’s medical staff after taking a hit against Ole Miss on Nov. 14.

LaMarcus Thompson obviously had to check out physically.

But before the Tennessee linebacker could even think about a return, it was just as important for him to be cleared mentally.

A hit that left Thompson on the ground in pain, forced him to be strapped to a stretcher and carted off the field against Ole Miss on Nov. 14 could have conceivably caused an impact that lasted longer than the shooting pain from his stinger. So with the Vols trying to get him back in the lineup Saturday (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.) at Kentucky, UT coach Lane Kiffin had to gauge Thompson's head perhaps more than his shoulder before putting him on the field again.

"A lot of it is mental, so it's good to see how he's coming back," Kiffin said. "What I wanted to see was, yes, he wanted to get back out here. We brought him in with (the defensive coaches), they talked to him and he really wanted to get back out there. That was the biggest hurdle to me.

"It can be real difficult, but it's like any game, there's a small percentage of injuries that happen and you just have to go back. It's like if somebody gets into a car accident. There's a fear to get back in a car if you've been in a severe accident, but you've got to get back."

As violent as the collision was late in the loss to the Rebels, fear doesn't seem to be a problem for Thompson. The Vols (6-5, 3-4 SEC) held him out last week against Vanderbilt as his shoulder healed, but it didn't take him nearly as long to get over any ill effects from the memory of the hit.

It was certainly a reality check for Thompson and led to him once again deciding to add a protective butterfly collar to his pads, but that seems to be the only real evidence left of the injury. He's moved around well at practice, smiled and joked with teammates like normal and appears ready to provide a boost to a beat-up defense against the Wildcats (7-4, 3-4).

"It felt great to get back out there and be with your teammates and having contact and not to feel any pain after the contact," Thompson said. "That was pain I never want to feel again. It was just a sharp pain down my sides, neck, stuff like that, but it's one of the things that happens in football. That's why we play this game. When you play this game, we know it's a dangerous game, but we love it.

"You try to forget it, because if you linger on it the next time you try to go take a hit, you're going to be scared that you're going to hurt yourself. You don't want to play scared, because that's how you get hurt again. You try to block it out, forget all about it and act like it never happened."

Whether or not Thompson can totally block it out won't be truly tested until kickoff against the Wildcats.

But the Vols have received nothing but positive feedback so far, and the rest of the team is just as ready to move on from the scare as Thompson.

"It seemed he was down like an hour," Kiffin said. "Problem is you can't do anything. You go through it in your mind, 'Do you go out there?' You can't really do anything, and it's a very helpless feeling because usually as a coach you can help in every other situation and things that happen with your players. That's one of the rare situations where you can't do anything. You feel pretty helpless.

"So being down on the ground as long as he was, the stretcher, the whole thing and how scary that is, we needed to see where he was at (mentally). It wasn't going to do us any good to force him back out and try to get him over that. I think you can tell he is."

Physically he's over it as well. But the Vols had to wait to be sure they were getting the whole package back.

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Comments » 20

Fryinpansvols writes:

I hope he's a 100% this weekend. GBO!

AceVentura writes:

Boy Austin Ward loves to use quotes in his stories. I think the only writing he does is "and kiffing said" then he goes into a quote that's half a page long. The best part is that it is still better than anything John Adams or the rest of GVX has written in over a year.

CoverOrange writes:

Austin, an explanation of what a butterfly collar looks like and does would have been helpful.

SmokeyHound writes:

go get em! beat kentucky! kill them!

Hounddog writes:

God Bless you and welcome back, the team needs you. Hounddog was pulling for your recovery and howling at the moon when he read this news. Along with Jackson KY will have trouble so get ready.

Let's play footbal. The Hounddog.

old_number1 writes:

Guys, some people never know what these players go through in this game. These players sacrifice every day for our team. I admire the ones that can overcome and endure!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Bring back the beer barrel....Have you listened to Rocky Top? hello? We need the Barrel back now!

LiveFaith writes:

in response to AceVentura:

Boy Austin Ward loves to use quotes in his stories. I think the only writing he does is "and kiffing said" then he goes into a quote that's half a page long. The best part is that it is still better than anything John Adams or the rest of GVX has written in over a year.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth Ace. The less a journalist actually says, the less probability that your being manipulated and deceived. Libel suit fears "usually" keep them slightly more honest about direct quotes. :-\

LiveFaith writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Austin, an explanation of what a butterfly collar looks like and does would have been helpful.

Here's a pic of one 4ya ...
http://images.buycostumes.com/mgen/me...

CoverOrange writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

Here's a pic of one 4ya ...
http://images.buycostumes.com/mgen/me...

I can see why LaMarcus would get ribbed for wearing that.

I assume the collar allows him to float like a butterfly but does he sting like a bee also?

TommyJack writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

Bring back the beer barrel....Have you listened to Rocky Top? hello? We need the Barrel back now!

yeah, whatever happened to the old beer barrel.

FEARinSEC writes:

I think MADD staged a protest against it saying it did not send a good message to college kids. Both universities decided it was best to not keep the "BEER BARREL"...

Skullz_VOL writes:

in response to FEARinSEC:

I think MADD staged a protest against it saying it did not send a good message to college kids. Both universities decided it was best to not keep the "BEER BARREL"...

A UK player died in a DUI related car accident about 10 years ago. Both schools then decided to do away with it.

jsm67vol writes:

in response to FEARinSEC:

I think MADD staged a protest against it saying it did not send a good message to college kids. Both universities decided it was best to not keep the "BEER BARREL"...

Just rename it the O'Dooles barrel, or the orange-blue barrel, or just to make all those mothers happy and even promote their cause, the MADD Barrel. Would calling it the MADD barrel prevent college students from drinking and driving, probably not unfortunately, but at least it sends the "right message"

CoverOrange writes:

in response to TommyJack:

yeah, whatever happened to the old beer barrel.

Kentucky decided 25 years ago they didn't want it anymore. Since ol Phil was around for every one of those victories it was given to him as a parting gift and he stores donuts in it.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

Hasn't this kid already been out with concussions a few times since spring?

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Austin, an explanation of what a butterfly collar looks like and does would have been helpful.

geez, some of you are always looking for just anything to criticize----google it rather than expecting a journalist to explain to you all the technical stuff---------this is a football column not an article from a medical journal

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to Skullz_VOL:

A UK player died in a DUI related car accident about 10 years ago. Both schools then decided to do away with it.

I am one who believes that college should provide learning tools for life. Tragically, there is no mentoring or learning today about alcohol beyond the don't drink and drive ads. Drinking and voting was legal when I was a student, thanks to President Nixon. Beer at Sam&Andy's was a walking event. Everyone understood that. A keg party/bonfire was a walking event. Everyone understood that. No one at my house ever hesitated to host a few sleep-overs. Camping with cases was a canoeing event. There was no drinking until we had made the distant shore and pitched our tents. How can college students learn to drink safely today, when learning to drink safely is illegal? I realize that some people want to cite statistics against college-age drinking. Well, statistics show that cell phones now cause as many traffic accidents as alcohol. Statistics also state that doctors cause something like three times the number of annual deaths as alcohol related traffic accidents. Does that mean that we should outlaw people going to doctors? I think that these numbers mean that we should all learn to live more repsonsibly. If young Americans cannot learn that in college, where can they learn it...nowhere or before a judge?

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

#42 Lamarcus Thonpson is one of the best players on our team. If he were not, I would say the same thing; err on the side of safety for the health of our players. Even when the best docs give their ok, a good HC should place his players first. Good fans understand that. I remember when this guy committed to UT out of the Stone Montain area. I'd love to see him hammer some Wildcats tomorrow. Or maybe I'd like to see him wanting to do that from the sideline. I am just very happy that he is looking good again.

kkempf#226833 writes:

in response to AceVentura:

Boy Austin Ward loves to use quotes in his stories. I think the only writing he does is "and kiffing said" then he goes into a quote that's half a page long. The best part is that it is still better than anything John Adams or the rest of GVX has written in over a year.

It feels silly to criticize a reporter for doing legwork, performing interviews, transcribing those interviews, and then writing a story about it.

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