Clemson TE Palmer recovering after big hit
A groggy Palmer was about to get stitched up for another injury in Land Shark Stadium's tunnel when he saw teammate Jacoby Ford score the winning touchdown in the Tigers' 40-37 overtime victory.
Palmer gave Dr. Len Reeves a congratulatory hug, than ran out of the tunnel in his bare feet to join his celebrating teammates.
"He was chasing after me, yelling at me," Palmer recalled.
Palmer hugged fellow tight end Durrell Barry.
"He just looked at me like, 'What are you doing?"' Palmer said Tuesday. "I was out there just running around celebrating. I may not have known completely what was going on but I knew I didn't want to miss that moment with my teammates."
Palmer said he's feeling better, although he still has headaches and isn't sure he'll play against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
He remembers most details of the game, but is still fuzzy on the frightening hit.
It was Clemson's first play of the fourth quarter, trailing 27-24. Palmer caught a short pass for 18 yards from Kyle Parker along the right sidelines. Miami safety Randy Phillips cut Palmer's legs out from under him on the tackle, sending the 6-foot-5 player sprawling in the air.
The Hurricanes' Darryl Sharpton continued into Palmer, the linebacker's helmet popping off the tight end's helmet almost instantly.
Palmer landed hard on his left side before settling on his back with Clemson trainers swarming the injured player.
Clemson offensive lineman Thomas Austin saw it unfold and feared for his friend. "I got a view of his face. You could see the pain he was in," Austin said. "He was definitely out of it."
Palmer flew home with the team and felt better than he thought he would Sunday morning. On Monday, though, "I didn't feel too good," he said.
Palmer has not practiced since. Coach Dabo Swinney is not sure when or if Palmer will be cleared to play. Swinney was doubtful he'd be ready by Saturday.
"As far as my memory goes, I remember everything," Palmer said. "That play's a little bit fuzzy, I don't really remember that too much. But I remember everything else. And watching the film, it all came back to me."
Even if Palmer wanted to forget about the hit, he couldn't. He said he had about "65 text messages. They ranged from .... 'Are you all right?' to 'C'mon, man, get up' depending on who it was. Some of my best friends were making fun of me."
It's not the first time a Clemson tight end was badly hurt against Miami. In 2005, the last time the teams met before Saturday, the Tigers' Cole Downer ruptured his spleen and needed emergency surgery to survive.
Downer returned to action six weeks later.
This was Palmer's second concussion in college. He said he suffered one as a sophomore.
Palmer has been a large part of Clemson's revived offense the past two games with nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, one each in wins over Wake Forest and Miami.
Parker's 21 receptions are the most for a Tigers tight end in 25 years. He's also given freshman quarterback Parker a sure-handed outlet behind big-play wideout Ford.
Half of Palmer wants to heal quickly as Clemson tries for an Atlantic Coast Conference title. The other half understands the serious nature of his injury.
"Your senior year, you don't want to miss out," Palmer said. "But it does have to deal with your brain, which is pretty important for your body. (I'm) trying to be smart about it."
In case he forgets, Palmer's been prodded by family members from Stone Mountain, Ga., that his health comes first. "My mom's really big in my ear right now. I'm starting to ignore her phone calls," he joked.
Palmer, 21, feels lucky to have played so long without serious problems. This, though, is a collision he hopes never to relive.
"There's no doubt about it," he said. "It was a pretty nasty hit."