-- Washington Redskins wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said Thursday that he and his wife are optimistic their son Drew, a wide receiver at Tennessee Tech who remains in a coma after being injured in a helmet-to-helmet collision, will recover and eventually graduate from college.
Hixon has been in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital since being carted off the field during the second quarter of the Golden Eagles' 21-7 loss to South Florida last Saturday. The impact of the hit knocked the younger Hixon's helmet off.
"He has not regained consciousness, however we are very encouraged by the progress he has shown. . . . We're looking forward to his recovery," Stan Hixon said at a news conference, also attended by the player's mother, Rebecca, a younger sister and the wide receiver's girlfriend.
Doctors have told the Hixons that the 22-year-old senior could regain consciousness at any time. Their son is a transfer from Louisiana State, where his father was an assistant last season when the Tigers won the Bowl Championship Series title for their first national championship in 45 years. "It's day-to-day. . . . It could be week-to-week," Stan Hixon said.
The Hixons were unable to share many details about the injury or their son's condition, other than to say they were originally told that Drew had a brain bruise. Doctors did not attend the news conference, held in the hospital auditorium.
"He does make a lot of movements, both positive and negative," Hixon said, adding that Drew also appears to respond to some voices, including his mother's.
Hixon, a native of nearby Lakeland, has been in almost daily contact with Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, and the Redskins have sent the team chaplain to Tampa to spend time with the family.
Hixon was in Washington preparing for the Redskins' season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he received a call from his wife, who attended Saturday's Tennessee Tech game. He flew to Florida on Sunday morning and plans to remain here during the period of uncertainty.
The elder Hixon has watched tape of the hit and noted his son was hurt on a pass play that's fairly common in football.
"I've seen it happen before and guys get up and walk away. You see some hits where guys barely get hit and they [get] hurt," Hixon said, adding that Drew's injury hasn't change his perspective about injuries. "It's a collision sport. It's a tough, physical sport. Injuries happen. We know as players and coaches that you're one play away from getting hurt. But obviously no one feels he's going to get hurt."