Christion Abercrombie has made an amazing recovery since sustaining a severe head injury last season and was at TSU’s spring game Saturday.
Mike Organ, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Even after sustaining a severe head injury that left him in critical condition and comatose for several weeks, Christion Abercrombie said he still loves football and hopes to return to the field for Tennessee State University.
It may be as a player or on the sideline as a manager or student coach. He just wants to be on the field again.
That is where Abercrombie, a middle linebacker, found himself Saturday — 196 days after being injured in a game against Vanderbilt on Sept. 29.
TSU linebacker Christion Abercrombie (6) tackles Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur (14) during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium Sept. 29, 2018. Abercrombie later collapsed on the sideline late in the first half and was in critical condition after emergency surgery for a head injury. Abercrombie was not injured on this play. (Photo: Andtew Nelles / The Tennessean)
He was on the sideline decked out in his blue No. 6 TSU jersey for the Tigers’ annual Blue and White Spring Game at Hale Stadium.
“Football is beautiful. Injuries happen. Players get hurt,” Abercrombie said. “You’ve got to fight through it. I still love the game.”
Returning to the field
Abercrombie spent 18 days in Vanderbilt University Medical Center after undergoing emergency brain surgery. He then spent two months in the Shepherd Rehabilitation Center near his home in Atlanta. He had a second brain surgery during that time.
He completed his outpatient rehabilitation in March.
Abercrombie said he hopes to start taking online TSU classes in the summer and will possibly return to school in the fall. He also hopes to play football again someday, but realizes that remains a long shot.
“If I won’t be able to do it, I will have to do deal with it. It’s God’s plan, so it is what it is,” Abercrombie said. “I want to do something in football. I want to be a coach or something in that field. I see myself being on the field this season. I’m going to be there in some kind of way.”
His mother, Staci Abercrombie, said the family will move to Nashville when her son returns to school to assist him.
Abercrombie currently weighs 222 pounds, which means he has gained back the weight he lost during his ordeal. He also is working to regain his strength.
“After I graduated from therapy, I kept building on,” he said. “I’m getting back to where I used to be. I’ve been lifting weights to get fit. I’ve been at home doing a couple of balance drills and stuff like that.”
TSU coach Rod Reed said Abercrombie will be welcomed back.
“He will always have a spot here at Tennessee State,” Reed said. “If he’s back in school and that’s what he wants to do, we will most definitely make it happen.”
Help from above
Abercrombie credits his Christian faith for helping him to make such a remarkable recovery.
“I have a strong faith in God. My parents and family all prays together,” Abercrombie said. “Prayer works and God is there. You have to have faith in God. If you don’t have faith in God, then it’s not going to work out for you. My faith is huge.”
Reed said he also leaned on his faith through Abercrombie’s injury.
“From that night in September to where were are today is a true miracle,” Reed said. “I just thank God everyday for blessing Christion and his family for him to be able to come back the way that he has.”
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Regaining his memory
Abercrombie said more and more of his memory has come back.
“I remember the Vanderbilt game now,” he said. “It’s going good. It actually helps to be back on the field like this. I was talking to one of my teammates and told him I remember how we used to be at practice. It’s coming back to me slowly but surely.”
The pick is in
It was announced Thursday that Abercrombie would announce the fifth-round draft pick for the Titans on April 27. The NFL Draft will take place in downtown Nashville.
“That’s big, that’s big,” he said. “I was so happy it almost brought tears to my eyes. I just want to thank Coach (Mike) Vrable and the Titans community for that opportunity.”
► More: Christion Abercrombie: Injured Tennessee State football player will return to school
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Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.