N.C. A&T linebacker returns after surgery to fix vertebra

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By Rob Daniels
Staff Writer

"As the scar vanishes, so does the memory -- hopefully."
N.C. A&T strength and conditiong coach Ralph Cornwell, about Montray Jackson, who will play for the Aggies this season after having neck surgery last year

Jackson did not have a near-death experience. (At least not in the unconscious, out-of-body, move-toward-the-light vision sense.)

Nobody told him his football days were definitely over.

But nobody would have blamed him if he had simply undergone vertebra-fusion surgery and called it a career. Now the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior expects to start when the Aggies face N.C. Central at 1:30 p.m. on Labor Day.

"Yeah, football is still my life," Jackson said. "It was a shock that it happened to me. Something I love so much was taken so quickly. But now I'm back to doing what I was doing before."


It was nearly a year ago today. The Aggies were in their final week of preparation for the N.C. Central game when Jackson, in his zeal to make an impression during a drill, committed his position's potentially mortal sin.

He tackled the ball-carrier with his head down, exposing the spinal column to the kind of shock and stress best reserved for an SUV on a rumble strip.

"I didn't hear anything," Jackson said. "It felt like everything was happening in slow motion. I was lying there. My teammates were telling me to get up and I was like, 'I can't move.' "