TAMPA, Fla. — Willie Gay Jr. had a moment of fear for Kylin Hill.
Mississippi State’s sophomore linebacker had an excellent view of the tackle laid on the sophomore running back early in the fourth quarter of his team’s game against Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Tuesday. Gay Jr. was there to help Hill off the field before he ultimately fell to the ground.
“He got hit in the back of the head,” Gay Jr. said. “I saw him get tackled from behind and it was kind of ugly. I kind of knew when he got up he had a concussion — or at least I thought I knew — but then I saw him get back in the game, so I don’t really know.”
The episode was a scary one for the former Columbus High School ball carrier. On the television broadcast of the game, ESPN2’s Molly McGrath said she was standing near Hill when he was removed from the game. She said Hill’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he lost consciousness for a moment. MSU coach Joe Moorhead said Hill was properly treated before he returned to the game in the final possessions of the 27-22 loss.
“Not that I saw,” Moorhead said of Hill losing consciousness. “He went through protocol and (was) checked out by our trainers.”
In compliance with NCAA rules, MSU first adopted a protocol for concussion management in student-athletes in August 2010. The latest revision in April 2017 on www.ncaa.org states “institutions shall have a management plan on file such that a student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be removed from practice or
competition and evaluated by an athletics healthcare provider with experience in the evaluation and management of concussion. Student-athletes that sustain a concussion outside of their sport will be managed in the same manner as those sustained during sport activity. Student-athletes diagnosed with a concussion will not return to activity for the remainder of that day. Medical clearance will be determined by the team physician or their designee.
“The student-athlete will be monitored for recurrence of symptoms both from physical exertion and also mental exertion, such as reading, phone texting, computer games, working on a computer, classroom work, or taking a test.”
At the time of his injury, Hill had run 11 times and caught two passes. He caught one pass and ran once in MSU’s final possession to finish with 12 carries for 43 yards and three catches for 12 yards.
Hill ended his season with 117 carries for 749 yards and four touchdowns, improvements of 39 carries, 339 yards, and two touchdowns from his freshman season. He also had 22 catches for 176 yards and four touchdowns. The 22 catches was second on the team.
In Hill’s absence, senior running back Aeris Williams, a West Point native, ran twice for 9 yards. He ended his final game as a Bulldog with three catches for 19 yards and six carries for 22 yards.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson