CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. –
His teammates gave him the nickname "Tebow."
A big, strong quarterback who played like a fullback who completed 40-yard passes, Woodberry Forest (Va.)
junior Jacob Rainey
was poised to enter the season as one of the state's top QB prospects in the class of 2013. That all came to an end on one tragic and shocking play during a preseason scrimmage on Sept. 3.
What appeared to be a routine tackle resulted in a broken knee cap, a severed artery and other complications. Saturday, at Fairfax Inova hospital in Northern Virginia, doctors were forced to amputate the lower portion of the leg, news that stunned and saddened the local football community.
"A young man playing at Woodberry Forest suffered a tragic thing where he lost his leg," University of Virginia coach Mike London said in his weekly press conference Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Woodberry Forest football family and to this young man's family in particular. Wins and losses are important, but sometimes the realities of what's really important are the young men and the family members and the sons that we are responsible for."
London, along with coaches at Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Duke, North Carolina and elsewhere, coveted Rainey, a 6-3, 215-pound dual threat QB who had been clocked at 4.61 in the 40-yard dash. Just a few plays before his injury, Rainey had dragged nine would-be tacklers down the field for first-down yardage.
Witnesses said the play that caused the injury appeared innocent enough, but the tackler's legs slammed into the back of Rainey's knee, crushing it against the turf.
Rainey remained in an intensive care unit last week while the Woodberry Forest traveled to play Benedictine High School in Richmond, where the Tigers won 16-13.
Woodberry was celebrating on the bus ride home when Rainey contacted a teammate to tell him the injury was worse than they originally thought. Tigers coach Clint Alexander gathered the team when they arrived back on campus and delivered the news that the star quarterback would lose the lower part of his leg.
That news, understandably, was tough to take said Woodberry senior safety Carlson Milikin
“I was on the verge of throwing up because I know
how hard he had worked in the summer and during two-a-days,” Milikin said. “This adversity will make him stronger, and he's
going to do big things in this world. All of my teammates and I try to
emulate his character and attitude. If there's one person that will come back from
this injury, it's him.”
Rainey remained in good spirits after the surgeries, according to the Woodberry coaching staff, and posted a message on his Facebook page
thanking supporters and well wishers.
"Thank you everyone so much for your thoughts and prayers," the message read. "I truly do appreciate it."
Last week at Benedictine, Rainey's best friend Nate Ripper
, a linebacker who postponed a recruiting trip to Georgetown over the weekend to remain with his grieving teammates, wore the quarterback's No. 9 jersey in Rainey's honor. A different Woodberry player will were No. 9 each game this season, beginning with the Tigers' trip to Blair Academy in New Jersey on Saturday.
Woodberry Forest officials released a statement Monday afternoon.
"Jacob received prompt and appropriate medical attention, first at Fair Oaks Hospital, and later at Fairfax Inova, where doctors determined the injury had severed the main artery in his leg and that emergency vascular surgery was necessary," the statement read. "Damage to the affected area was extensive, and doctors amputated the lower portion of Jacob's leg on Saturday, September 10, in Fairfax. Jacob is still hospitalized.
"Film from the scrimmage indicates that the tackle was clean and the injury Jacob sustained was highly unusual."