"We're happy to report that Zac has been released from the hospital and our medical staff is optimistic he will make a full recovery," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said.
Etheridge collided head-on with teammate Antonio Coleman in the first quarter of Saturday's game as he was trying to tackle Ole Miss running back Rodney Scott. The safety was put on a stretcher to stabilize his neck and back and then was taken to East Alabama Medical Center by ambulance and later transferred to UAB Hospital for further tests.
Etheridge is not expected to return to action this season.
Zac Etheridge has 3 1/2 tackles for losses this week and two forced fumbles this season.
A 6-0, 212-pounder from Charles Henderson High in Troy, Etheridge started 12 games each of the past two seasons and has started all nine games this year. He has 35 solo tackles and 17 assists this season. He was in on 74 tackles as a sophomore and 65 as a redshirt freshman.
Chizik pointed out that Etheridge is a key player for his 6-3 team that returns to action this week vs. Furman for Homecoming at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Mike Slade played safety in Etheridge's absence. "Mike filled in adequately, but I think the whole level of our defense stepped it up a notch," Chizik said.
The Auburn coach added, "He is a team leader. He is loved by all of the guys on the football team and that is because he loves football and loves Auburn, and everybody on our team knows it."
Chizik had praise for Ole Miss running back Scott for staying still beneath Etheridge while medical personnel checked on Etheridge and then prepared him to transport to the hospital. "I have got to give that young man a lot of credit. I don't know how he knew, but just knew he couldn't move. He sat as still as the night laying right underneath him."