If nothing else, high school ballers, learn from this freak accident. It can happen to anyone at any time. Our Scott Wolf writes ….
By Scott Wolf, Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES — USC tailback Stafon Johnson was in emergency surgery Monday night after a weightlifting accident when a weight bar he lifted fell on his throat.
“He’s still in surgery, it’s serious,” USC coach Pete Carroll said late Monday.
A spokesperson at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles said Johnson was in “serious but stable” condition. Johnson underwent surgery for more than six hours after being taken to the hospital from the Heritage Hall weight room at USC.
“I saw him when he left here,” USC safety Drew McAllister said. “He might have been in a little bit of shock at first but he looked like he was getting better and better.”
Johnson was working out Monday morning, a routine occurrence for football players on the first day of the week, when he began bench-pressing.
Carroll did not know how much weight Johnson lifted. The bar, according to Carroll, slipped out of Johnson’s right hand and fell on his throat.
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“He did get hurt,” Carroll said. “He was OK when he left. He wasn’t able to say anything.”
Carroll said Johnson was not bleeding when he left USC. He said players he coached lost control of the weight bar before but never had it fall on their throat.
“You can miss the (weight) rack, it just slips,” Carroll said. “This one just hit him wrong. This was right at the end of his set, and he wasn’t putting the bar down on the rack yet.”
According to sources, Johnson was being spotted by an assistant strength coach but it did not prevent the injury.
“I was surprised,” tailback Allen Bradford said. “It was like a freak accident. He had a spot and the weight fell out of his hands.”
Carroll said the injury was not “life-threatening,” but said Johnson would be “out for a while.”
The senior is the Trojans’ second-leading rusher this season with 157 yards in 32 carries. He leads USC with five touchdowns.
“The guy’s been an integral part of our program for years,” Carroll said. “We all feel a bit damaged today. It’s a bad deal. We feel horrible for him.”
Carroll said Johnson’s absence would create more opportunities for junior tailback C.J. Gable, a Sylmar High product who played sparingly this season. Gable has only 10 carries in four games.
“This obviously changes things. Stafon is a centerpiece for us,” Carroll said. “It would call on C.J. to step up more.”
Another candidate, sophomore tailback Marc Tyler, remains out with a fracture in his big toe.
“It feels better but I still can’t run,” said Tyler, who hopes to return by the Notre Dame game Oct. 17.
Quarterback Matt Barkley’s bruised shoulder felt better Monday, although it wasn’t 100 percent.
“He says it’s not even close to before,” Carroll said.
“He feels so much better than a week ago. He really exceeded our expectations against Washington State.”