Prugh returns to campus to meet with Vols

Updated: October 30, 2003, 7:48 PM ET
ESPN

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee reserve center Chuck Prugh, who spent two weeks in intensive care with a serious illness, returned to campus Thursday to meet with his teammates and watch practice.

Prugh was hospitalized Sept. 27, moved to an inpatient rehabilitation center earlier this month and finally allowed to go home last week.

Doctors believe Prugh had mononucleosis and then developed two cases of pneumonia. While in ICU at University of Tennessee Medical Center, he was put on a ventilator to help him breathe because he had respiratory failure.

"It's still fuzzy in my mind," Prugh said about being sick. "Football really took backstage. I'm just glad to be here really."

The senior transferred from Carson-Newman to Tennessee as a walk-on in 2000. He was awarded a scholarship this fall and had routinely filled in for starter Scott Wells.

Prugh said he will take incompletes in all his classes this semester and return to school in January. He will not practice with the team the rest of the year.

He hopes to win an appeal to the NCAA for a medical redshirt to regain a year of eligibility. He is still trying to get back his strength and stamina through some outpatient therapy while living at home.

Prugh and his family received hundreds of get-well cards and phone calls, even some from Canada.

He last played in a game on Sept. 20 at Florida before his health declined the following week. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital after he woke up around 4 a.m. Sept. 27 with dry heaves, a purple face and blood coming out of one ear, said his father, David Prugh, who with his wife, Becky, accompanied their son Thursday.

Prugh smiled and laughed some while talking about his ordeal and joked with his teammates.

The two weeks he was in ICU, Tennessee lost to Auburn and Georgia, but he doesn't remember much of that time.

"I went in at 3-0. I said `Win the rest of them," Prugh said he told his teammates. "Those two (losses) didn't happen to me."

He didn't know Tennessee had lost 41-14 to Georgia until he saw a rerun of the coach's weekly television show while staying at the rehabilitation clinic.

"I changed that pretty quick," he said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index