Tennessee fans will have an opportunity to show their support to Inky Johnson this afternoon, when he rejoins the team, albeit on the sideline, as an honory captain. Since his injury on September 9, 2006, the UT administration and coaching staff have been tight-lipped, but rumors have swirled around Rocky Top that the injury was much more severe than it even looked, that there was not only a danger that Inky would never play again, but that he might not ever regain the use of his right arm.
Yesterday, UT officially released information about Inky's injury, and Inky himself addressed the media. The official word, courtesy of UTSports.com:
UT Head Athletic Trainer Jason McVeigh:
Since that time, Mr. Johnson has been receiving daily physical therapy by the UT Sports Medicine staff to restore full range of motion to his right shoulder and arm.
Mr. Johnson, his family and representatives from the UT Athletics Department recently were flown to Rochester, Minn., to meet with specialists at the Mayo Clinic and to undergo further diagnostic testing and evaluations. Mr. Johnson is scheduled for reconstructive brachial plexus surgery on his right shoulder and arm at the Mayo Clinic on Dec. 21. The surgery will be performed by Drs. Bishop, Shin and Spinner.
At this time, no decisions have been made regarding Mr. Johnson's playing status on the UT football team.
I first want to thank everyone -- my teammates, the coaches, the medical staff and the fans -- for the tremendous support and encouragement they have been to my family and me.
I also appreciate you in the media and the general public for your patience in allowing me to go through this process of gathering information that will be helpful in explaining what has occurred since my injury.
I'm just glad to get a scheduled date for surgery. As for me, it is an everyday process of being positive and working with our sports medicine staff to get better.
Head coach Phillip Fulmer:
I also appreciate the outstanding response and care that Inky has gotten as we've gone through this process. But most of all, I appreciate his attitude and work ethic to recover to the fullest possibility that's out there for him.
Inky Johnson and his family are what college football and the term student-athletes are all about. He's the ultimate team guy and someone who we have just tremendous respect for and want the very best of everything in life for him.
Thoughts, prayers, and attention from supporters are often bountiful during the early stages of adversity, but they tend to taper off long before the adversity is resolved. Do not grow apathetic in your prayers for Inky. I won't.