Football Career Over for Michigan RB Run Over by Forklift

Michigan RB Drake Johnson (Photo via Michigan 247Sports)

A University of Michigan football player who was accidentally run over by a forklift during a spring practice session last year has decided to call it quits.

Senior running back Drake Johnson said he fully recovered from injuries he suffered in the incident, which occurred last April, but lingering hamstring problems prompted him to quit football.

Freak Forklift Accident

Johnson made national headlines after he was run over by a forklift while stretching at Michigan’s indoor practice facility in Ann Arbor on April 13, 2016. Matt Johnson, the operator of the forklift, who had been using his vehicle to move a large cabinet, said he felt a bump and thought he ran over a starting block.

But when the driver looked down, he saw Johnson rolling out from underneath his forklift.

Johnson was wearing headphones while he stretched and apparently did not see the forklift approaching him, according to the Twitter account of Derick Hutchinson, the U of M beat reporter for Graham Media Group.

Johnson was transported to the University of Michigan Health system for treatment, according to local news reports.

‘Blue-Twisted Steel’

Immediately after the incident, Wolverine head football coach Jim Harbaugh said Johnson was fortunate that his injuries weren’t more severe.

“He’s doing well,” Harbaugh told Nick Baumgardner, U of M beat reporter for MLive Media Group, who posted the quote on his Twitter account. “I can tell you this: It would’ve killed a lesser man. He is blue-twisted steel.”

“I’m not a doctor, but talking to him it’ll be a week or two or three at most,” Harbaugh added. “It’s a miracle, right up there with Easter.”

Nagging Injuries Force Player to Quit Football

It was Harbaugh who made the announcement that Johnson was quitting the team.

“He’s not going to continue in football,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Doesn’t think he’s able to. Medically, emotionally. Just hasn’t been able to do it at the level that it needs to be done in his opinion, and he’s not going to participate in football going forward.”

At the time of the accident, Johnson, a native of Ann Arbor, had been the No. 2 running back behind De’Veon Smith. In 2014, he gained a career-high 361 rushing yards, but last season was limited to just 271 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries. He also caught six passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, including two scores during the most recent Citrus Bowl, in which the Wolverines defeated the University of Florida 41 to 7.

But he already had torn the ACL in his left knee twice during his Michigan career, one injury at the start of the 2013 season and one at the end of the 2014 season.

Johnson said after the accident on his Twitter feed that he felt fortunate.

“All I can say is thank God,” he wrote.


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