Thursday, August 13, 2009

Irving out for 2009, but 'blessed'

Nate Irving said he doesn’t remember anything about the crash that ended his junior football season.

Irving stood in front of a throng of reporters at N.C. State’s Murphy Center office complex Thursday to announce that he won’t play football this season because of injuries suffered in a June 28 car crash.

He remembers leaving his parents’ house in Wallace, N.C., near Wilmington and waking up in the hospital, but nothing in between. The state highway patrol account shows that driving while sleepy may have contributed to the single-vehicle crash at about 4:40 a.m. in Johnston County.

After looking at photos of his wrecked vehicle, Irving said, he felt fortunate to be alive.

“I would say I’m pretty blessed to make it out of the accident that I made it out of,” said Irving, who plays linebacker, “and to be here today as I am now, I’m pretty blessed. To be able to have a chance to play football again down the road is another blessing, so I don’t have any complaints.”

Irving’s meeting with a doctor Thursday confirmed what he already had feared. He is walking now, but the compound fracture of his leg was a severe injury. He also suffered other serious injuries – a broken rib, collapsed lung and separated shoulder.

According to coach Tom O’Brien, the doctor told Irving it would be best if he takes the entire season to heal. O’Brien wasn’t ruling out a miraculously quick recovery that could perhaps have Irving ready for a bowl game.

But O’Brien is proceeding under the assumption that Irving won’t play until 2010, when he will be a senior.

“I think the initial shock (after the crash) was not what he wanted to hear,” O’Brien said, “but the more he met with the doctors and made it through his appointments, the best thing for him would be not to push it for this year.”

Irving redshirted in 2006, so he cannot gain an additional year of eligibility as a result of this injury.

This was supposed to be a big season for Irving, who made 84 tackles and led the team with four interceptions but missed three games because of injury in 2008. He pondered leaving school early for the NFL draft, but was considered likely to improve his stock with pro scouts if he played another year at N.C. State and was injury free.

Instead, he will have to sit out the year as sophomore Dwayne Maddox and redshirt freshman Terrell Manning compete for his spot at boundary linebacker. Irving was cited for careless and reckless driving as a result of the crash and has a lengthy rehabilitation ahead.

In his typical soft, shy voice, he said his biggest concern is returning to full health.

“I’m out now,” he said. “so there’s nothing I can do but take what happened and learn from it and move forward. I’m just happy to be here now.”

Ken Tysiac