Trojans, Stafon Johnson in good spirits after freak accident
Maybe this Twitter thing isn't so bad after all. The same week that Texas Tech coach
As he stood next to
Carroll then looked at Johnson, who had been texting on his cell phone from his hospital bed until the battery ran out, and realized that Johnson should send a message to everyone. So he reached back into his pocket and handed his cell phone to Johnson, who tweeted on Carroll's page. "This is stafon," he wrote. "Thank you all 4 the prayers and love I truly feel it ... We ride 2gether we die 2gther umma TROJAN 4 LIFE."
"At that moment I realized that this is his chance to speak when he can't speak," said Carroll. "He can speak not only to the people that are sitting with him but to everyone. It was an extraordinary expression of how you can have a voice even when you can't talk."
That night Carroll called
"I think every message they get from him is very uplifting," said Carroll. "He's very powerful right now. He has a lot of power with what he does and he's starting to sense that."
With Johnson tweeting and texting updates, a sense of normalcy returned to the Trojans as they went through practice on Thursday, a day before boarding a flight for Saturday's game against Cal in Berkeley. As Johnson had tweeted earlier in the day, he is feeling "better and better by the hour" and expects to make a full recovery.
The boisterous group that ran off the practice field was in stark contrast to the shell-shocked team on Monday as Johnson was listed in critical condition after a 275-pound barbell slipped from his hands during a bench press lift and landed on his neck. Johnson, who was immediately rushed to the hospital after the incident, was in the midst of his surgery when the team finished practiced on Monday night.
"The mood of the team has changed completely," said senior safety
The biggest difference during practice was the missing sound of Johnson's booming voice during drills. Known as the team's resident jokester and trash-talker, he was also famous for belting out
While Carroll has visited Johnson at least once a day since the accident, many of his teammates haven't been able to because only a handful of people are allowed to see him at a time while he's in the intensive care unit, but at least a dozen filmed well-wishes to him in a video that Carroll gave Johnson before the team left.
"How long am I going to be out?"
"He only thought it was going to be a three-four week injury," said Sprewell. "Nobody wanted to tell him the news and I wasn't going to tell him. Then he turned on the news in his room and that's how he found out that he was going to be out for the season. It was on every channel. You could see that it crushed him, but I told him that football should be least of his worries."
Sprewell, who spoke from the California Hospital Medical Center where Johnson will watch Saturday's game, said that Johnson continues to get better each day and that he's even begun joking with him on his white board. "He wrote that he can't wait to get back [home] and eat some real food," said Sprewell. "He's getting tired of the hospital food but he's in good spirits. His sense of humor is out of this world. He's hurting but he's still trying to make people laugh when he's writing on his board."
Although most of Johnson's backfield teammates laughed when recalling their favorite Johnson moments, senior tailback
"It's like one of my brothers got hurt," said Bradford. "I went and saw him the first night and it was tough. I was mad at myself that I wasn't there for him when he got hurt. I know we're going to run real hard for him and represent him on Saturday. He might not be with us but you're going to see him out there when we run."