Navy football player Will McKamey underwent cranial surgery to reduce swelling and bleeding on his brain over the weekend, but family members said they do not think the freshman running back suffered from a harmful hit on the practice field.
McKamey, 19, collapsed during practice Saturd ay and was airlifted to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He remained in a coma Monday afternoon, surrounded by family members, and the hospital said he was listed in critical condition.
His father, Randy, initially tweeted that the injury was sustained from a hit during practice, similar to a major head injury that ended the 5-foot-9 slotback’s high school career. “Not sure I have the strength to go through this again,” Randy McKamey tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
But the player’s mother, Kara, posted an update on Facebook on Monday afternoon and said McKamey “did not sustain a bad hit or unusual or extreme contact” during Navy’s practice on Saturday.
“The Navy coaches have [pored] through the films of practice and seen nothing more than Will carrying the football normally, doing what he truly loves,” she wrote.
Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo was not available for comment Monday but planned to meet with reporters following Tuesday’s practice, according to the school. The team canceled its practice Monday, as many players and coaches waited and prayed for McKamey at the Baltimore hospital.
“The entire Naval Academy family is shaken by this turn of events and we are providing all the support we can to Will and his family,” read a statement from the school’s athletic department.
McKamey is a member of the school’s Third Company and graduated last spring from Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn., where he was a two-time all-state selection and as a senior rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 28 touchdowns.
In November 2012, in the final regular season game of McKamey’s senior year, he scored a fourth-quarter touchdown but suffered a head injury on a two-point conversion and had to be airlifted to a Chattanooga hospital. McKamey reportedly suffered a ruptured blood vessel that did not require surgery, but he missed the playoffs.
Family members said the school was careful not to rush McKamey back. He didn’t have any football contact for nine months following the 2012 injury “to just be safe,” according to his mother’s Facebook post.
McKamey did not appear in any games for the Midshipmen last fall.
“I want to be clear that the Navy football program nor us as his parents would have ever allowed him to be in a dangerous situation,” Kara McKamey wrote.
The player was seen by four neurosurgeons and had four to six CAT scans and MRI exams during his recovery from his 2012 injury, according to his mother, and the family isn’t certain what triggered his collapse Saturday.
“We feel obviously there is more going on in his brain than we could have ever detected,” his mother said.
McKamey underwent surgery on Saturday and the family initially reported small improvements in his condition, noting that McKamey showed some reaction to light. The family reported on Monday that his condition was mostly unchanged.
“We are counting this as a blessing due to the fact that the brain is very slow in the healing process,” his mother wrote. “We are in for a long road. Please understand that ‘no change’ is still expected and seen as a blessing at this point. We are taking it a day at a time.”