SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -Washington State quarterback Gary Rogers was hit as he let go of a pass against Portland State last month, and something popped in his seventh vertebra.
He felt numbness and tingling in his right arm as he lay on the turf at Martin Stadium. His mind was racing.
``The first thing is I was hoping I was not going to be paralyzed or anything like that,'' Rogers said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters about the Sept. 20 injury that ended his college career. ``Then I thought, `Why is this happening to me?'''
Rogers was on the ground about 15 minutes, and both teams gathered around the ambulance that drove onto the field.
But he could tell on the ride to the hospital, as he could move his hands and toes, that he was not paralyzed.
The diagnosis was a stable cervical spine fracture that was non-surgical - a small fractured bone that would repair itself.
``I'm really thankful to be walking,'' he said.
most every way, has been plagued by injuries, especially at quarterback.
Kevin Lopina, who was also injured in the Portland State game (the Cougars' only victory), will return to the starting lineup against No. 6 Southern California on Saturday in Pullman.
Lopina has missed the past three games after breaking a bone in his back.
``Medically he is cleared,'' coach Paul Wulff said. ``He is 100 percent.''
Last week's starting quarterback, Marshall Lobbestael, tore knee ligaments at Oregon State.
If Lopina goes down, Wulff said he will use redshirt freshman J.T. Levenseller, the son of receivers coach Mike Levenseller. Dan Wagner is No. 3 on the depth chart.
Rogers' injury was by far the scariest, but ultimately his prognosis qualifies as good news for Washington State this season.
These days Rogers, from Mukilteo, wears a neck brace and watches the Cougars on television as they stumble through one of the worst campaigns in team history. He's ready to start hanging out with the team again at practices, and expects to lose the brace in three weeks.
He's only one credit shy of graduating in December in sports management, so he doesn't have much of a class load. Doctors have told him to expect a full recovery, and he hopes to try out for professional football, despite barely playing in college. But that is only if doctors agree he does not face increased risk of crippling injury.
His biggest frustration was serving as a little-used backup for three seasons, only to be felled early in his last season.
Rogers started the first two games, but was benched for Kevin Lopina when he could not move the team. After Lopina was knocked out of the Portland State game, Rogers replaced him.
``It's difficult because I waited so long here,'' Rogers said.
He holds no anger toward the player who hit him, saying it was a legal hit.
``It's football,'' Rogers said.
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