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Walking back to the locker room while still wearing the c-spine collar medical personnel had placed around his neck, Austin Dantin knew he had some important business to take care of.
The University of Toledo sophomore quarterback placed a call to his family back in Tallahassee to assure them he was alright after being taken off the field on a stretcher early in the fourth quarter of the Rockets' 57-14 loss at Boise State on Saturday.
“My mom was bawling and telling me she didn't want me playing football anymore,” Dantin said. “It was the first game of mine that my parents didn't come to, and my brother joked with them last week that I'd probably end up getting hurt because they weren't there.”
Dantin was back in good spirits Monday and able to laugh about what could have been a catastrophic event in his life.
With the Rockets trailing by 50 points, Dantin endured a helmet-to-helmet hit to the right side of his head from Boise State freshman safety Jonathan Brown on a run up the middle, and he immediately crumpled to the turf.
“I never lost consciousness through the whole thing,” Dantin said. “I kept trying to tell [the doctors and trainers] I could sit up.”
But before the medical personnel would allow Dantin to do that, they asked him to touch his chin to his chest. And upon performing that task, Dantin said he felt a tingling in his feet, which prompted the call for a stretcher and backboard.
Dantin was later diagnosed with a mild concussion and neck sprain, and his playing status for Saturday's game against Kent State at the Glass Bowl is “questionable,” according to coach Tim Beckman.
Dantin was to meet with team doctor Roger Kruse Monday afternoon and again later this week to further re-evaluate his playing and practice status.
“Obviously I'm going to do everything I can to come back and play,” Dantin said. “That's my goal.”
No longer wearing the neck brace but was still suffering from “a little bit of a stiff neck,” Dantin said he wasn't concerned about any lingering effects from the concussion. He added that he hasn't had any post-concussion symptoms since Saturday, such as headaches or dizziness.
“Mild concussions happen all the time with players,” Dantin said, “so honestly, it doesn't really bother me. It doesn't really go through my head at all.”
Beckman Monday defended his decision to have his starting quarterback in the game with the outcome virtually decided against a nonconference opponent.
“We've got to get better,” Beckman said. “And if you asked Austin and [backup Terrance Owens], they want to play and they want to be involved.
“We're trying to build this program to be like Boise, Utah, and TCU, and the only way we can do that is by playing our players and making our players get better.”
Beckman said that if Dantin is cleared to play, he'll be the starting quarterback against Kent State but added that Owens will see time.
Beckman also reiterated Monday that if he had to do it all over again, he would still bench Dantin after a touchdown if it were Owens' turn to play on the next series – as he did in the first quarter against the Broncos.
“They both knew exactly what our plan was and they're both very well deserving of getting in there,” Beckman said. “I think when you surprise the players and all of a sudden stick somebody in there, that's when it's not good.”
Dantin admitted it was tough coming out after a scoring drive, however.
“It is what it is,” Dantin said. “I'm going to help out this team however I possibly can, but obviously I'd love to go back to being the guy who's out there every single snap. The starting role is a huge deal to me, but whatever coach decides I'll have to deal with.”
Owens said he'd be ready whether he splits time with Dantin on Saturday or has to handle the quarterbacking duties all by himself.
“I'm going to keep the same approach, just keep doing what I'm doing,” Owens said. “I think I'm doing a pretty good job in practice, and I'm just trying to continue to get better.”
Contact Zach Silka at: email@example.com or 419-724-6084.