On national signing day, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was able to speak for the first time about signee Jaylend Ratliffe, the Laurinburg, N.C. , recruit who was nearly killed in an ATV accident last July and missed the season recovering from the brain injury that he suffered in the crash.
Johnson, who had made a scholarship offer to him prior to the accident that Ratliffe accepted, honored the offer and is planning for Ratliffe will enroll in January as he continues his rehabilitation. There is no guarantee that he’ll be able to play ever again. The crash caused significant muscle control and mental-skills issues that he has rehabilitated to repair.
“It’s like I told him, He’s going to work his rehab as hard as he can and we’re going to plan on doing that,” Johnson said. “And if he doesn’t (come back to play), he’ll be our assistant quarterback coach. Either way, he’s going to have a good future.”
Johnson said that he and quarterbacks coach Bryan Cook, who was primarily responsible for his recruitment, stayed in touch with Ratliffe throughout the year. In a story written by my colleague Steve Hummer for this past Sunday’s paper and myajc, Ratliff said he plans to run track this spring and that he would like to play football again.
“People ask me if I’m scared to play again,” Ratliffe said. “I’m not scared. If God gave me the opportunity to play again, he's doing something with my life and nobody knows better. That's why I don't fear playing again.
"That's a story to tell. That would touch so many people's hearts: Look what God did for me. Imagine what he could do for you. "
Johnson would love for it to happen.
“Who knows what’s going to happen?” Johnson said. “But you look at what he’s been through and what he’s done, and I think it’s amazing. I’m not counting him out from being able to come in here in January and start playing.”