Georgetown junior linebacker Ty Williams, who suffered a severe neck injury during his team’s game against St. Francis (Pa.) Sept. 5, will leave the intensive care unit at UPMC Altoona Hospital this week to be transported to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for spinal injury rehabilitation.
Although Head Coach Rob Sgarlata was not able to provide any details about his condition, Williams’ cousin Monica Cochran is posting frequent updates on a GoFundMe page. Cochran started the page last week, and it has already garnered more than $30,000 in donations.
According to Williams’ mother Melissa Rand and Cochran, the athlete shattered one vertebra in his neck and fractured another while making a tackle, rendering him unable to move his legs. During a nine-hour surgery at UPMC Altoona Hospital in Altoona, Pa., doctors implanted a prosthetic and inserted two metal rods into his neck.
In an interview with The Gaithersburg Town Courier, Rand revealed that a week after the surgery, her son was able to move his left toe and knee and right foot, and has sensation in both legs.
“He’s getting the best care possible,” Sgarlata said. “I spoke with him and his mom this morning, he wished us luck, told the kids to work their tails off to get a W. We’ll know a lot more next week, but everything that’s come out of his stay in Altoona has been positive, and we’re just looking forward to him starting his road to recovery.”
Williams’s teammates were able to heed his wishes, earning a 34-7 win over Marist on Saturday night.
“It feels real good to go out there and get a W, especially for Ty. That’s what we were focusing on all week, just whatever Ty wanted us to do,” junior wide receiver Justin Hill said after the game.
The team wore helmet decals displaying Williams’ number two and rallied around their fallen teammate to get the Hoyas’ first victory of the season.
“It was awesome. Everyone’s worked so hard throughout camp, and then to see Ty go down, I think it really gave us something to rally around. It feels good,” sophomore defensive back Jelani Williamson said.
Williams has also received online support from many people both inside and outside of the Georgetown community. In the aftermath of the injury, some of Williams’ teammates reacted on Twitter.
“Prayers up for my man @ty1will – no one stronger. Got absolute faith in you and in God brotha. Love you man,” junior wide receiver Patrick Finnegan tweeted.
“Yall please send a prayer out to my brother and teammate @ty1will who had a severe injury, but we serve a God that can heal all things,” sophomore defensive back David Akere tweeted.
Cochran, who set up the GoFundMe page for her cousin, said she was thankful to the more than 300 people who donated in support.
“The communities as a whole — Georgetown Univ. & alumni, Quince Orchard, St. Francis Univ., UPMC Altoona Hospital, Penn State Athletic Department, the many NFL players sending Ty well wishes and prayers (Thank you Mr. Wingo) — have been outstanding! The support is so appreciated. Thank you all so much!” Cochran wrote on the page. “He’s been so happy receiving all of the well wishes and prayers from you all. He keeps saying, ‘I can’t believe they’re all doing this for me!’”
Williams, a native of Gaithersburg, Md., had great success during his high school career at Quince Orchard High School. He earned eight varsity letters in three sports, including three letters in football, four in track and field and one in basketball. Williams led his football team to back-to-back state championships in his junior and senior seasons and was named his team’s offensive MVP as a junior and best offensive back as a senior. He finished his high school career with 175 carries for 1,386 yards and 16 touchdowns and was equally dangerous as a receiver, catching 42 passes for 624 yards and eight touchdowns.
After arriving at Georgetown, Williams played in all 22 games in his first two seasons at Georgetown. Two games into his freshman season, he converted from running back to linebacker, where he has remained ever since. As a sophomore, Williams started all 11 of his team’s games, making 47 tackles, including four tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles, broke up two passes and recorded a career-high seven tackles in two consecutive games against Bucknell and Lehigh.
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