Ball State's Love OK after spinal fracture, but career likely over

Updated: September 22, 2008, 7:21 PM ET
By Graham Watson | ESPN.com

Ball State receiver Dante Love is expected to "live a normal and happy life" according to a statement released by the university, but he probably won't ever play football again.

Love suffered a cervical spine fracture and a spinal cord injury during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Indiana.

He was taken immediately to Bloomington Hospital, where he underwent a five-hour surgery. Ball State released a statement Sunday afternoon that Love was able to move his arms and legs.

"Everything went as the doctors thought, and even a little better," Ball State coach Brady Hoke said. "At this point, the biggest thing was just to relieve pressure and all that stuff on the spinal cord."

Love was injured when Indiana cornerback Chris Adkins hit Love helmet-to-helmet after Love made a short catch. Love fell to the ground, briefly unconscious, and lay motionless for 15 minutes. He felt numbness in his arms and legs as he was strapped to a backboard. He was taken off the field in a golf cart.

He has since been transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation. There was no timetable Monday on his rehabilitation. Hoke said Love was expected to be moved out of the critical care unit later Monday, according to The Associated Press.

The replay was difficult for Love's teammates to watch during film sessions.

"At first, I watched it back-to-back a couple of times," running back MiQuale Lewis said, according to AP. "After that, I just couldn't watch it again. It was just too hard."

Tight end Darius Hill said Love's health was the most important thing to him.

"It's been pretty tough knowing he's not going to be with us, but he's always going to be a part of this team," Hill said, according to AP. "It definitely takes a lot [of the concern] off, knowing that he's going to be all right down the road."

Love entered Saturday's game as the nation's leader in receiving yards per game at 144.3. He also was ranked second in all-purpose running.

Love, who was the Cardinals' most versatile player, finishes his career ranked second in school history in receptions (199), yards receiving (2,778) and is tied for fourth in TD receptions (20).

He also holds the Ball State record for kickoff-return yards in a career (2,129) and is tied with Dante Ridgeway for the most 100-yard games in school history (11).

Graham Watson covers college football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.

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