N.C. State receiver Steph Louis was face down on the Carter-Finley Stadium turf early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Georgia State.
Louis took a hard hit to the back of his head after he caught a 14-yard pass. At first, N.C. State defensive tackle Eurndraus Bryant thought, “Uh, oh, not again” but Bryant’s optimism quickly took over.
“I know Steph,” Bryant said. “He’s a tough guy. I just had a feeling he was going to get up and walk off the field.”
The cart came out and medical personnel quickly started to tend to Louis but he did, as Bryant predicted, get up and walk off the field.
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Just last week, Bryant — or “Big E” as he is known to his teammates — was in a similar spot. The massive senior defensive tackle, who is 6-1 and 330 pounds, picked up a fumble late in the second quarter of N.C. State’s season-opening win over James Madison on Sept. 1.
Bryant rumbled for about 15 yards before he lost control of the ball. When Bryant went to the ground to recover his fumble, James Madison tackle Jahee Jackson (6-3, 295 pounds) jumped and tried to get the loose ball. He hit Bryant in the head instead.
Then Bryant’s teammate, linebacker Isaiah Moore came into the pile and collided with Bryant’s neck. The bodies kept coming and Bryant was hit a third time by a different JMU lineman.
Bryant remained on the turf for several minutes after the pile was sorted. Players from both teams stopped and took a knee and waited while medical personnel tended to Bryant.
Bryant could see the cart and the stretcher headed his way.
“You don’t ever want to be in that position,” Bryant said after N.C. State’s 41-7 win over Georgia State this past Saturday. “I had my eyes closed. I didn’t even want to look at (the cart).”
Bryant’s neck was the issue.
“It locked up,” he said. “Then I started twirling it and getting it right.”
N.C. State’s training staff told Bryant not to move his neck. He said he was able to move his arms and legs.
“Before I went to the hospital, I knew I was OK,” Bryant said.
He was taken to nearby UNC Rex Hospital as a precaution. He was back on the sideline before the end of the third quarter of the JMU game.
Bryant, one of four new starters on the defensive line, was back at practice on Tuesday and was able to start against Georgia State. He had four tackles and he blocked a field goal in the win over the Panthers.
With N.C. State up 27-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers tried a 34-yard field goal on fourth and 15. Bryant popped through the line and batted Brandon Wright’s kick.
Bryant said he visualized the block before it happened.
“I just ripped the gap and got my hands up,” Bryant said. “That’s all she wrote.”
Sometimes the power of positive thinking can go a long way.