LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -Late in the first quarter against Louisiana Tech, Kansas coach Mark Mangino took off his headset and turned to talk to a player.
What he saw caught him off-guard.
Cornerback Kendrick Harper, who had walked off the field after making a tackle a few minutes earlier, was being wheeled to an ambulance, head immobilized, body strapped to a stretcher.
The jarring image hit Mangino right in the heart.
``I didn't know he had been carted off,'' Mangino said. ``You're with these kids every day and they're your kids, essentially, so it bothers you when that happens.''
The injury, it turns out, wasn't as bad as it seemed when Harper was wheeled from Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
The senior was released from the hospital over the weekend and returned to campus on Monday. Doctors say he will be able to resume playing, though there's no hurry to get him back on the field.
it,'' Mangino said. ``We'll see how he progresses.''
Harper was injured when he tackled Louisiana State receiver Phillip Livas in the left flat, his head snapping back on Livas' shoulder. Harper walked back to the bench on his own, then started having symptoms of a head or neck injury.
Not wanting to take any chances, KU's medical team immobilized his head, gingerly lifted him to a stretcher, wheeled him off to an ambulance outside the stadium.
Though a few of Harper's teammates where there talking to him when he was taken away, most didn't realize that he had even been injured, still caught up in the game.
``I didn't even know until after halftime that he was gone,'' said cornerback Chris Harris, who starts opposite Harper. ``I saw Isiah (Barfield) out there and I was like, 'What's Isiah doing out there?' I didn't know what happened.''
The Jayhawks kept their focus despite the potentially traumatic injury to their teammate, pulling away in the second half to beat LaTech 29-0.
Of course, that's just the nature of football.
The sport produces hundreds of violent collisions during a 60-minute game, each one with the potential to paralyze, even kill. The players and coaches know it, forced to keep it in the back of their minds to maintain their aggressiveness.
o more injuries. There's no other choice but to play on.
``It was going through my mind a lot when he was gone, once he got hurt, but you've just got to try to forget about it and continue with the game,'' Harris said. ``I know they would have done the same thing if it was me that got hurt.''
Mangino, like the rest of his team, kept his composure on the sideline, barking out orders, leading the Jayhawks to their second straight win. Still, in the back of his mind, even as he was calling plays, the coach wondered how Harper was doing, what had happened to one of HIS kids.
``You do the best you can to stay focused on the game, but you tell your medical people, as soon as you know something, I want to know 15 seconds later,'' Mangino said. ``Tap me on the shoulder during the game, I don't care if I'm calling a play, if it's a timeout, I want to know.''
Harper's injury didn't turn out to be serious - the doctors were just being cautious. Mangino was glad they were.
``They don't take any chances and I wouldn't want them to,'' Mangino said. ``If it was my son, I wouldn't want a medical staff or coaches taking a chance. But it worked out pretty good in this case. We're pretty happy.''

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