Jazzmen is the top rated senior defensive lineman prospect in the state of Mississippi this year. This past February, it looked liked his dream of playing college football had come to an end due to a devastating car accident.
"I was driving a '94 Regal and it was dark and real foggy. I could barely see," said Jazzmen, who had one passenger in the car with him. "I was driving down the road and saw a deer, so I slowed down. But I hit some rocks and the back end of the car starting skidding off the road. I panicked and tried to stay on the road, but that made it even worse. I hit a ditch. After hitting the ditch my head slammed against something, then the car went up in the air and started flipping and came down. That's all I remember."
The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital bed.
"I was in the hospital when I woke up. It was about an hour after the accident. Everything was blurry when I woke up," recounted Jazzmen. "The first thing I could see was my mom looking at me. All I could hear was my mom crying, my girlfriend crying, my brother crying, everybody was crying."
Then he drifted back to sleep for several more hours.
"I nodded back off. It was about six hours later when I woke up again," said Jazzmen. "I wondered where I was. I tried to get up and walk, but I fell to the ground. I climbed my way back up on the bed."
A few seconds later, his family came back into his room when they heard him cry out. That was when he was told the entire story about his accident and the results from it.
"The car flipped in the air, then when it came down it flipped eight more times," said Jazzmen. "I didn't know what was happening because I was unconscious. Everybody told me that I was hanging out the window (when the car finally came to a stop). The doctor said if it had flipped one more time, it would have killed me."
Despite surviving the accident, his body, as you would expect, paid a heavy price.
"I had a broken collarbone, a fractured neck, broken ribs and I fractured my spinal cord," said Jazzmen, who wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time.
His friend, however, was much luckier.
"All my partner had was a scratch over his eye," explained Jazzmen. "He didn't have his seat belt on either."
What possibly saved his friend from more serious injury or even death may have been Jazzmen himself, or, more to the point, Jazzmen's body.
"I was laying across him on the passenger's side," recounted Jazzmen. "The whole time the car was flipping I was holding my partner to the seat because my body was on top of him."
Although his buddy was able to leave the hospital soon after, Jazzmen had to stay a few days.
"I was in the hospital about three or four days," he noted.
But he wasn't in any kind of shape to do much once he did get home.
"After they let me go, all I did at home was lay in the Lazy-Boy," said Jazzmen. "I was in a neck brace. Anytime I wanted to get up someone had to help me."
While his body was slowly healing, his mental outlook wasn't doing as well.
"To tell you the truth, I thought I couldn't play football any more," said Jazzmen. "I was so down because football is my life. I just love the game so much."
A few months later he went back to the hospital hoping for good news. However, he came back home with mixed feelings.
"Two or three months later me and my mom went to the hospital and the doctor said I had to stay up for about two more months because my spinal cord wasn't healed real well yet," said the youngster.
Then he slowly decided to take things into his own hands.
"I came back home and about two or three weeks later my collar started irritating me, so I took it off on my own," said Jazzmen.
Jazzmen now admits that might not have been the best thing for him to do, but he did it anyway.
"I started walking when I came out of the collar. I walked around the house at first," said Jazzmen. "Then, about three months later I went outside and ran up and down the yard. At first, I couldn't run much. But I slowly increased it. I finally ran around the lake two times. It's two and a half miles around the lake."
While his body was obviously improving, his mental outlook also took a positive turn upwards.
"I finally thought I could play football again when I started running," said Jazzmen.
And his doctor confirmed that on the next visit.
"I went back to the doctor and they gave me an MRI and told me that my spinal cord (healed) perfectly," said Jazzmen. "They said I could start back playing football. I just couldn't lift heavy weights because of my shoulder."
You would have expected it to take most of a season for Jazzmen to get back into the swing of things as far as playing football. Nope, not so for this determined youngster.
"When I started back practicing all I could do was pass-rushing from my left side because my right collarbone was broke. Three weeks later I could do a little more," said Jazzmen. "When the football season started I was about 70%. I got back to my normal self about the 5th game of the season. I knew I was 100% because my body didn't ache any more. Usually, my body just ached. My back would start hurting. Then, it was like everything just left."
One thing from the accident that didn't leave, however, was his remembrance of it and his thoughts about wearing a seat belt.
"I think about the accident all the time. I think I'm lucky to be alive," said Jazzmen with all sincerity. "I now take my time going places and I wear my seat belt all the time."
Although his body and mind suffered during those seven to eight months, one thing that didn't was his recruitment.
"Most (college) coaches liked the way I bounced back. They offered me scholarships due to the way I bounced back and how good I was playing," said the heavily recruited youngster who chose Mississippi State over the likes of Florida State, Nebraska, Alabama, South Carolina and several other D-I colleges.
Although almost all the schools eventually backed off of Jazzmen after he publicly committed to Mississippi State, one school continues calling him, but he remains firm with his commitment to MSU and has plans to officially visit only them.
"Southern Miss is still calling me, but the only visit that I'm taking is to Mississippi State," said Jazzmen.
And you can be certain he'll be wearing a seat belt when he drives to Starkville, Mississippi for that visit.
Jazzmen Guy 2006 Highlights -
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.