Tennessee State linebacker Christion Abercrombie is in critical condition at a Nashville hospital Sunday after collapsing on the sideline during a game against Vanderbilt and undergoing emergency surgery for a head injury, officials said.
Tennessee State University said a statement on Twitter that Abercrombie, 20, was taken to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and remains “under observance.”
Tigers head coach Rod Reed told The Tennessean he was unsure when Abercrombie was injured late in the first half. The newspaper reported that the 20-year-old sustained a head injury.
“It was right before the half,” Reed told the paper. “He came to the sideline and just kind of collapsed there.”
The 20-year-old was then given oxygen before being taken away on a stretcher. Abercrombie played through the end of the second quarter, but did not return to the game after halftime, FOX17 reported.
Abercrombie graduated from high school in 2016, is from Atlanta and last year played for Illinois, making 11 tackles in 11 games, according to TSU Tigers football roster.
Abercrombie had come into Saturday’s game as the Tigers’ second-leading tackler and was credited with five tackles and a quarterback hurry before being injured. The Tigers went on to lose 31-27 to Vanderbilt.
After the game ended, players from both teams gathered at midfield to join Reed and Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason for a prayer for Abercrombie, his family and the Tigers.
“Football’s what we do, not who we are,” Mason said. “I know what it is to be a coach. I know what it is to have a player who’s injured. At the end of the day, when serious injuries happen, football becomes secondary.”
Abercrombie’s injury drew reaction from many on social media.
“Our thoughts are with the Abercrombie family, their friends and the entire Tennessee State community during this difficult time,” Vanderbilt Football posted.
“A kid who plays for Tenn State got a bad head injury in the Vanderbilt game today, he is undergoing brain surgery, I’ve been praying for his healing, would love to have you join me,” legendary American singer, songwriter, guitarist and fiddler Charlie Daniels said on Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.