Hereford alum Akers says his college career is over

Rare neck condition found in UConn freshman center

August 16, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Former Hereford lineman Joe Akers, a three-time all-state and All-Metro selection, told The Sun yesterday that his football career is over as a result of reinjuring his neck in practice at the University of Connecticut last Tuesday.

Akers, the most decorated player in the history of the three-time state champion Bulls' program, had enrolled at UConn in January after graduating early, and had earned a spot as the first-team center throughout much of the spring.

Six feet 1 and 296 pounds, Akers was first injured on Dec. 4, 2004, during the Bulls' Class 2A state title loss to Potomac, when he was taken off the field by stretcher and flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where a sprained neck was diagnosed.

Akers said yesterday that an evaluation by the UConn medical staff that included last week's MRI revealed that a rare condition - "I had a shortage of spinal fluid in my fourth, fifth and sixth vertebrae" - led to his injury.

"The spinal fluid helps to cushion the spinal cord, but I don't have enough of the fluid. They said they believe that it's something I'm born with," said Akers, 18, whose injury resulted from a collision in practice. "The only reason it wasn't found after the state championship game was that I got a CAT scan, not an MRI. I might not get badly injured the next time, but there's no guarantee that I wouldn't. UConn advised me not to play, but they left it up to me. So I thought it would be best for me and my family not to risk it."

Akers said that he will remain at UConn as a student, and that football coach Randy Edsall has indicated that the school will honor his full scholarship.

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