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Senior running back Drake Johnson is recovering after being accidentally struck by a forklift during spring football practice last week.
According to sketchy media reports, Johnson apparently had been stretching Wednesday, April 13, at the indoor track and field at the school’s Ann Arbor campus when he was reportedly hit by the forklift in what was described as a “freak accident”.
Few Official Details Released
School officials offered few details about the incident, confirming only that it occurred and that Johnson was being treated at a local hospital.
But social media was buzzing within hours of the incident.
Johnson reportedly was wearing headphones while stretching when he was struck by a forklift operator carrying a load the blocked his view, 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.
While officially, Michigan officials were keeping quiet about 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.”
Setback to a Career Season?
Johnson, a native of Ann Arbor, currently is 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.
Observers of the U of M program say Johnson figures to be a key member of the Wolverine offense this season and could be in for his best statistical season if he stays healthy. But he already has torn the ACL in his left knee twice during his Michigan career.
And the extent of the injuries from this latest incident remain a huge question mark that could have a direct outcome on Michigan’s chances at a national championship during the upcoming season.
Social Media Leaks Details
So it’s little wonder that team officials are keeping a tight lid on all information relating to the accident.
Johnson said later on his own Twitter feed that he felt fortunate.
“All I can say is thank god,” he wrote.
The secrecy surrounding injuries to college and pro football athletes is not new or unusual. Coaches go to great lengths to prevent competing teams from knowing the extent of the injuries of their players.
But the rise of social media has made it more challenging for big time programs like Michigan’s to keep a lid on player injuries.