Southern’s interim Athletic Director Roman Banks said Thursday that wide receiver Devon Gales’ attitude since suffering a severe spinal injury last Saturday has been an inspiration to everyone around him.
Gales was injured while blocking on a kickoff during the third quarter of the Jaguars’ 48-6 loss to Georgia in Athens, Ga. The player suffered several neck fractures and underwent surgery Sunday. He was transported to the Shepherd center in Atlanta on Wednesday to begin rehabilitation.
“It brings great joy to see a person who has gone through this type of severe injury to have as much spirit and confidence that he has and it really has given myself and his parents and Jaguar Nation and the Georgia nation all great hope and energy from how he has responded,” Banks said at an afternoon news conference.
“We know it’s a long road for him. We know that in order to go through what he’s going through you’re going to have to be courageous and confident and you’ve got to believe in a higher power. So we’re thinking in due time we’ll understand the severity of his injury and we’ll understand his recovery a little better. I know the doctors are hopeful that under their instruction and leadership that he will continue to get better as time goes.”
Banks was the first Southern official to see Gales, a redshirt sophomore from Baton Rouge, after Gales was transported from Sanford Stadium to Athens Regional, where he was first treated and underwent surgery.
“The first thing he said to me was, “Coach, do you think I can get a medical redshirt?”” Banks said with a smile. “That just shows you how awesome he has been in handling this situation.”
Banks said football coach Dawson Odums will go to Atlanta on Friday to visit Gales. The Jaguars have an open date this weekend.
Gales has been visited by Georgia head coach Mark Richt on multiple occasions and other Bulldogs representatives have seen him. They made him an honorary Bulldog and fitted him with Georgia gear.
Banks, who said Georgia has acted like Southern’s “big brother” since Saturday, is sending Gales a special Southern jersey. The Jaguars will wear navy blue jerseys and pants for the homecoming game against Prairie View on Oct. 17. A navy blue jersey with Gales’ No. 33 is on its way to Gales.
Southern said Gales has received volumes of letters and cards from around the country. More than 100 arrived at the athletic department Thursday morning alone.