Saturday, August 18, 2012

Incoming Freshman Ondre Pipkins Sustains Neck Injury

Well, this isn't good.

It was reported Friday morning that incoming freshman Ondre Pipkins, a five-star defensive tackle from Missouri, was taken to the hospital after suffering a neck injury during fall practice. At the time he "had movement in all of his extremities," a relatively clear signal that the injury would not result in paralysis. Pipkins was taken to the hospital primarily as a precaution, the report said.

Pipkins (6'3", 340 lbs.) was a standout player at the 2012 All America Game and was expected to deliver some key depth to the Wolverines greatly in need of some assistance on the defensive line. He drew much attention from Michigan not only for his amazing play as a high school senior, which garnered him five stars on, but also for his encouraging and playful attitude. Pipkins had a popular impression of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke which circled the web.

According to a report update posted hours later by Kyle Meinke at (where the neck injury was first reported before Michigan's athletic department released a statement), Pipkins appears to be doing well. He is walking around; he is not wearing a neck brace.

The Michigan athletic department's Twitter feed released this update:

And Pipkins himself later tweeted that he was alright:

Along with this gem, reflective of his playful personality:

So, crisis averted? Looks like it.

There was definitely plenty of panic to go around when the news broke of Pipkins' injury and what it meant for Michigan's defensive line (It was Not Good). Obviously, because neck injuries are often very serious, the greater concern was whether or not Pipkins' football career was over entirely, which surely would have happened had he been paralyzed. Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be the case.

Pipkins' injury came in what has seemed like a series of unfortunate events for the Michigan Wolverines. Earlier this week, it was reported that freshman defensive end Chris Wormley (Toledo, OH) tore his ACL during practice, effectively forcing him to sit out the entire season. Roy Roundtree apparently "tweaked" his knee but is expected back in a couple weeks after surgery. Fitzgerald Toussaint is being disciplined after being arrested for a driving under the influence in late July. And Will Campbell is also being disciplined after being arrested back in May for drunken behavior in which he accidentally damaged the hood of a car.

Most of these players are essential to Michigan's depth chart (I think Wormley is the exception because he has the benefit of plenty of depth ahead of him), and all are pretty much questionable for the season opener against Alabama. So, no, it hasn't exactly been a great summer.

Going forward, obviously many people will be following the development of Pipkins' injury and recovery (which now appears to have merely been a stinger), but I don't think we should expect Pipkins' to play in the season opener. It's tough enough having to go full speed when you're healthy, but there's nothing worse for a player or a team when someone's injury gets aggravated. This isn't to suggest that Pipkins' shouldn't practice or that he should definitely take a medical redshirt. I am simply stating that we, as fans, should not take this episode lightly and treat it like it never happened.

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