SAN JOSE — After a pair of frightening injuries over a two-week span in which players were carted off the field and taken away by ambulance with concussions, San Jose State coach Ron Caragher will be cautious with freshman running back Thomas Tucker's return.
Tucker was injured in the third quarter of the Spartans' 34-27 win at Colorado State on Oct. 12. A diagnostic exam of his neck was negative and he got released from the hospital in time to fly home with the team to the Bay Area.
He was upended after making a 6-yard catch, landing awkwardly on his head and neck area after the tackle. Tucker remained still on the ground with his helmet on as medical staff from both universities attended to him, delaying the game more than 15 minutes.
That terrifying moment with Tucker came just two weeks after cornerback Bené Benwikere also sustained a concussion on a hard collision Sept. 27 against Utah State and was carted off the field. He missed one game.
Benwikere stuck close to Tucker on the field before he was taken away. Tucker had gone from playing primarily defensive back the first month to running back before his debut Oct. 5 at Hawaii, where he had 12 carries for 48 yards.
“There have been scary moments,” Caragher said Monday. “Having an ambulance come and seeing some of your young men carried off is very scary. Fortunately, all those times we've been more on the precautionary side of things, because any time you're dealing with the head and neck area, it's a delicate area. What there is in place with those things is a timetable, so once you're symptom-free then you have to go a certain period and then the student-athlete is stressed out maybe in jogging. Are there headaches after jogging? Are there headaches after a non-contact practice? There's a protocol. I have confidence.”
While Tucker has taken the first step by testing symptom-free with no headaches while doing normal day-to-day activity, the next test will be how he responds while exercising.
Tucker attended practice as a spectator Sunday. First-year coach Caragher said it will still be some time yet before he returns to football activity.
“Teammates were so excited to see him, a terrific young man, smile on his face, he'll walk in a room and light it up with his smile,” Caragher said. “It was great to see him out there. He's a little way away from returning to football because of the seriousness of the injury, the concussion.”
Meanwhile, wide receiver Jabari Carr is set to return for Saturday's home game against Wyoming after missing two games with a shoulder injury. San Jose State (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West) is coming off its second bye week having won two straight following a three-game losing streak