Southern wide receiver Devon Gales underwent successful spinal surgery Sunday afternoon, the school announced.
Gales, a redshirt sophomore from Baton Rouge, suffered several fractures in his neck during a collision on a kickoff return in the third quarter of the Jaguars’ 48-6 loss to No. 7 Georgia on Saturday in Athens, Georgia.
The surgery stabilized the fractures, and Gales continues to have movement in his upper body and is in good spirits, the statement said. Gales will remain hospitalized at Athens Regional Medical Center until he recovers sufficiently to return to Baton Rouge for further treatment.
In the statement, Southern and the Gales family thanked the hospital, the Georgia staff and everyone who helped in caring for Gales.
Bulldogs Athletic Director Greg McGarity told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Georgia flew Gales’ parents from Louisiana at the university’s expense Saturday night and they were driven to Athens by Georgia staff.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt visited Gales on Sunday, as did offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and his family.
“We’re trying to cover him up with as much love as we can, and let him know that we care, let him know that we’re here to help,” Richt said, according to the AJC. “We’re just gonna continue to pray, and I know the Bulldog nation is behind him as well.”
Richt said as Gales’ treatment continues, the family may need financial help.
“If there are needs, if it does come to that, I will call on the Bulldog nation to get involved,” Richt said.
He added that Georgia’s team chaplains and head trainer also were involved in plans to support Gales.
The wives and other family members of Georgia coaches also were planning to help out.
“We have a family night tonight,” Richt said Sunday. “They’re making a lot of posters, get-well cards, and they may pop in and out of the hospital.”
Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert said on his Twitter and Instagram accounts “Our hearts and prayers go out to Devon Gales, his family, and the entire Southern football team.”
Several other players and assistant coaches also offered prayers and best wishes via social media.
Southern said Gales’ family, interim athletic director Roman Banks “and the entire Southern University family ... are extremely thankful for all of the prayers and well wishes that Devon has received from many people nationwide.”
The Gales family also requested continued prayers and asked for privacy.
Southern said cards and well wishes for Gales can be sent to SU Athletics c/o Devon Gales, PO Box 9942, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.
Gales, who played at Central High School, has one pass reception for 24 yards and has made two unassisted tackles on special teams.
He was injured as he blocked Bulldogs kicker Marshall Morgan. Gales’ helmet appeared to collide with Morgan’s shoulder before he fell to the ground.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.