MIAMI — It happened in a flash. In one play, every person at FIU Stadium went from enjoying a football game to fearing for USF senior linebacker Brouce Mompremier.
Mompremier was taken off the field in an ambulance and transported by helicopter to Jackson Medical Center's Trauma Center in Miami, where he is expected to remain overnight. According to a news release, he has movement in all his extremities but had pain in his neck.
"When something like that happens, you realize in a hurry that this is just a game," USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. "That's a human being out there, and you just hope and pray that he's going to be all right."
After colliding with teammate Carlton Williams, a senior safety, Mompremier laid motionless near midfield. Williams was assisted off the field with a hip injury.
"I knew it was him that hit me, but I didn't know he was still down," Williams said. "I was walking off the field yelling about how he hit me in my hip, and I looked back and he was still down."
Senior defensive end Jarriett Buie was next to Mompremier as he was attended to on the field.
"That was really hard. He's one of our brothers," Buie said. "All I could think was to go out there and do what he always said: 'Give every breath.' "
Senior linebacker Tyrone McKenzie said he was tearing up at the sight of Mompremier going into the ambulance.
"It was very emotional," McKenzie said. "We just wanted to go out there and finish this for him so he didn't get hurt for nothing."
The injury occurred with 6:43 left in the third quarter. Senior safety Danny Verpaele said it was difficult not to think of Mompremier once play resumed.
"A play like that brings you back to reality," he said. "On any play, anyone can get hurt and we had to try and go out there and play hard for him."
As Mompremier was loaded into the ambulance, both teams gathered at midfield, took a knee together, and had a moment of silence.
"Their head coach (Mario Cristobal) said, 'Let's say a prayer,' and I thought that was a great suggestion on his part," USF coach Jim Leavitt said.
Burnham said losing Mompremier as a player was tough, but it's tougher to lose the person.
"He was our leader, no doubt," he said. "He means so much to the players. When something like this happens, it makes you question whether or not this is worth it. That was a young man out there. You just hope that God takes care of him."