UM's Hunter Knighton recovering after lengthy hospital stay, determined to return to field

University of Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton said in a statement Saturday that he spent nearly two weeks on a ventilator after he was hospitalized following a workout in late February.

University of Miami Hunter Knighton was considered to be one of the Hurricanes' top offensivel lineman heading into the year.

JC Ridley / University of Miami

University of Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton said Saturday he was hospitalized with heat stroke and spent nearly two weeks on a ventilator following a late-February workout.

Unknowingly suffering from the flu at the time, Knighton said his body temperature reached 109 degrees and he was placed on a ventilator for 12 days after the Feb. 24 incident.

"The results were not good: brain swelling, multiple seizures, kidney and liver failure," Knighton said in a statement released by the school. "Unresponsive, I was placed on a ventilator for 12 days during which time I fought one of the greatest battles of my life against a loss of blood platelets, double pneumonia, and fever."

Knighton left ICU after a two-week stay, "by God's grace, and with an amazing medical team ... and with a great support group of family, coaches, and friends."

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound Knighton missed the 2013 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. The redshirt freshman said he planned to resume his career.

"I am so close to achieving my childhood goal of playing Division I football and I am determined to make it happen," he said. "I plan to contribute this spring to my team and not only achieve my goal of playing major college football, but far surpassing it, and helping The U win games. Thank you to all of those who have supported me and prayed for me."

Knighton was introduced to the crowd at halftime of the spring game. Wearing an orange cap and his orange No. 54 jersey, he walked onto the field, then shook hands and hugged head coach Al Golden.

Hurricanes coach Al Golden also released a statement regarding Knighton less than three hours before the team's spring game at Sun Life Stadium.

"As we entered the spring of 2014, Hunter Knighton was distinguishing himself as one of the top performers on our team. He had completed our off-season training program ranked third among all of our offensive linemen and was emerging as a team leader," Golden said.

"Hunter was so close to realizing his lifelong goal of starting at center in major football program when he fell ill. Since he first began the recovery process, Hunter has been nothing short of amazing and has been an inspiration to us all, approaching his rehab program with courage and fortitude. I have absolutely no doubt that Hunter will continue to persevere, make a full recovery, rejoin his teammates and realize all of his goals at The U."

Knighton had been an outstanding two-way lineman at The Hun School of Princeton (N.J.) before enrolling at Miami in January 2013.

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.