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Nittany Lions Tragedy: Adam Taliaferro Suffers Spinal Cord Injury

Friday, September 29, 2000

By Joanne Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

South Jersey Sports is sad to report that Adam Taliaferro, Eastern's All-Star running back of last year was tragically injured during the Nittany Lions - Buckeyes game last Saturday. We extend to Adam and his family our heartfelt support and good wishes that he will make a complete recovery and return to good health. Known for his strong will and determination, Adam will strive to succeed and overcome this unfortunate accident.

Saturday's devastating injury to Adam Taliaferro is testament to every parent's deepest fear of what potential there is for serious and irreparable damage, for the love of competition.

One can only imagine the gamut of emotions Adam's family experienced on Saturday, September 23,2000. The pride of seeing a son's hard work, academic accomplishment and commitment to excellence paying off by attending Penn State University. The excitement of watching their son and brother on national television playing college football as a freshman under Nittany Lion's coach Joe Paterno. And then shock , frozen with fear of the worst, as they saw Adam lay motionless on the field after tackling Ohio State running back Jerry Westbrooks with less than 2 minutes of play left in a game the Lions had no chance of winning. All a parent can think is, "Get up,? please, get up".

That head-on tackle left Adam Taliaferro with a fractured vertebra in the back of his neck and a bruised spine. After surgery to stabilize his spine, Adam has been transferred to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, closer to his home and family in Voorhees.

Adam's dad was by his son's side since Saturday night, until he was transferred to Philadelphia. The family has issued statements through Penn State expressing gratitude and appreciation for the outpouring of support from the Penn State family, Coach Paterno, and Ohio State. They have expressed confidence that Adam is on the road to recovery and will eventually return to Penn State to graduate.

Adam Taliaferro graduated from Eastern High School a National Honors student and athletic recognition as First Team All State, First Team All South Jersey, First Team All Group IV and First Team All Conference. He holds the school record of 62 touchdowns and a total of 3,227 yards. Considered the South Jersey Player of the year for school year 1999-2000 (see SJSports article- 7/8/200), he also owns the South Jersey Scoring Championship with 176 points. This past July he was MVP for New Jersey in the Governor's Bowl All-State Classic, played at West Point in New York.

At age 18, Adam has enjoyed a charmed career with academic and athletic accomplishments. His family and friends are rallying around him to support him through this unfortunate twist of fate that has altered the course for him. While Adam lay on the field receiving attention, his teammates Eddie Drummond, Tony Johnson, Matt Schmitt and Rod Perry formed a semicircle alongside him, kneeling and holding hands.

The Penn State Football team sponsored a prayer and support rally for their injured teammate on Friday, September 29, on campus. Assistant coach Larry Johnson and team members spoke and led prayers for the Adam's complete recovery. With the uncertainty of their teammates recovery and their dismal season record of 1-4, the Nittany Lions will have to dig deep into their emotional reserve to get ready for Saturday's game against Purdue.

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