Troy’s Etheridge injured in Auburn game

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Former Charles Henderson Trojan and current Auburn Tiger Zac Etheridge was released from the hospital on Monday, after fracturing his fifth vertebra during Saturday’s home game.

Etheridge, a junior safety, sustained the neck injury early on in Auburn’s 33-20 victory over Ole Miss, when he collided headfirst with teammate Antonio Coleman.

Etheridge was carried off the field after being strapped to a backboard and taken to East Alabama Medical Center.

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Despite the injury, the Troy native had movement in his extremities and even gave the thumbs-up sign as he was carted off Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“We just want to thank everyone for all their prayers and concerns for Zac,” said Etheridge’s father, Donald Kelly.

Etheridge’s family said the doctors expect him to make a full recovery, however Etheridge will be in a neck brace for the next three to four months during his physical therapy.

The family also said whether Etheridge would play football again was not something they were concerned about currently.

During the team’s weekly press conference Sunday, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik talked about what Etheridge means to his team

“He’s a team leader and he’s loved by all the guys on this football team and thats because he loves football and he loves Auburn,” the coach said.

ìEverybody on our team knows it. Without question, hes one of the leaders of our football team. Its going to be tough.î

Coming into the game, Etheridge was the Tigers fourth-leading tackler, with 52.

Last season, he finished with a team-high 75 tackles.

Auburns defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Etheridges presence will be missed on the field.

ìHe was doing a good job of leading us through some tough times and being a very positive leader through some tough times. Hes almost like a coach on the field. Thats hard to replace.”