BOSTON, NOV. 20 -- Gary Wilkos was busy today -- go to church, get a haircut, visit the mall, work on a school project. Life goes on for a young man who came close to losing it a month ago.

He was having another big game as the University of Massachusetts's quarterback. About midway through the third quarter, he tacked 10 yards onto his team-leading rushing total before being tackled by two Delaware players.

He didn't get up.

Wilkos fractured the first vertebrae in his neck. There was no paralysis; a full recovery is expected.

While Wilkos spent today at home in Staten Island, N.Y., his teammates were back in Amherst, Mass., getting ready for Saturday's Division I-AA playoff game against William and Mary.

"I'm sure on Saturday it'll cross my mind, thinking, 'Why couldn't I be there?' But I'm not, so I have to accept it as a man," he said. "I really haven't gone through that syndrome of being depressed since I've been injured."

He considers himself lucky.

The width of the fracture was five to eight millimeters, team physician George Snook said. "A little distance more, and it could have killed him."

But he said healing is going well, although no decision has been made on whether Wilkos will play again. Except for the halo brace that keeps the fracture stable, Wilkos is leading a fairly normal life.