Third and goal from the 15-yard line.
Junior defensive back Quentin Jones saw the Yale University quarterback scramble out of the pocket. He went in for the tackle head-first.
And then it all went black.
“All the lights just turned off inside my mind,” Jones said about the hit that brought his football season to an end this past fall.
He lay face down on the ground motionless as his teammates signaled the training staff for help. Play stopped, and the stadium went silent. Every player from both teams took a knee as the paramedics rushed onto the field. Jones was immobilized and transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital.
“The first thing I did was get on my knees and prayed about it to make sure that he was okay and that nothing serious happened,” sophomore defensive back Donavon Harris said.
Jones’ mother, Kimberly Bradley, was at home in Georgia watching Jones little sister, Allie, in a volleyball tournament. She was live streaming the game between her daughter’s volleyball matches. When she checked in on the game for the last time before driving home, she saw her son being carried off the field in a stretcher.
“My heart dropped,” Bradley said. “I was a wreck. In the meantime, I grabbed (Quentin’s) little sister Allie and attempted to drive home from the mall. I crashed Greg’s (Jones’ stepdad) car and ended up on the steps of a church where Greg conducted a conference call with me, (Quentin’s) dad and the medical team at Yale Hospital.”
By midnight, Bradley had already boarded a plane and made it to Jones’s bedside.
During her flight, Bradley was informed by doctors Jones not only had a severe concussion, but also a brain bleed. The doctors and Jones’ parents debated whether or not to drill holes into his head to stop the bleeding. His parents made the decision to let it heal on its own.
Jones stayed in the hospital for five days resting and then was sent back home to Georgia with his family to recover from the massive injury for the rest of the semester.
The decision to have Jones recover at home was made between his parents, athletic director Joe Sterrett, academic adviser Katie Guynn and the Yale doctors.
“Bringing him home gave me the opportunity to ensure that he fully rested, saw all the necessary doctors and physical therapists and just gave me time to smother him with love,” Bradley said.
But the recovery process for a severe concussion has no exact step-by-step plan. Jones said during the first two months at home, he had to be extremely aware and communicative of how he was feeling.
“With my concussion, it honestly just hurt to think,” Jones said. “Like my parents would ask me what I wanted to eat and just the process of thinking of what kinds of food I wanted and the combinations of a meal would give me the worst headache.”
For the first few weeks home, he said all he wanted to do was sleep in a dark room. He was no longer in a stable hospital with medication, so adjusting to being home with only Tylenol was difficult.
Eventually, Jones worked his way to watching about half an episode on Netflix per day. Then, he began playing video games with no sound. By the end of his first two months at home, he was able to play a full session of video games online, against someone else, with sound.
“I took this opportunity to really just completely rest,” Jones said. “I didn’t think about what I was missing. I couldn’t.”
Jones was able to watch all of Lehigh’s Patriot League title-clinching win over Bucknell University from home without a headache.
Although he was upset he couldn’t help his team win the championship, it gave him motivation to focus on his recovery and getting back to school and football.
Jones started his physical therapy in December. He expected the exercises to start easy and small and build into more challenging exercises. Instead, he was running and jumping right away and pushing his heart rate. By January, he was back lifting and training with his trusted football trainer.
Now, Jones has returned to Lehigh for the spring semester with a full academic load of classes and a calendar packed with workouts, film sessions and practices with the Lehigh football team.
“At first, I was a little bit scared about coming back,” Jones said, “but never was there a time where I didn’t want to ever play again.”
The Yale doctors were cautionary about Jones returning to playing Division I football. The doctors all agreed it was important Jones play without full pads until he was 100 percent healthy and most importantly, confident.
His dedication and work ethic toward his recovery and return did not surprise his teammates at Lehigh.
“He is relentless,” Harris said. “You would think after having an injury like that, that you would never want to play football again, but that shows how much he loves the game and how dedicated he is.”
Jones may be known by his teammates as an overall hard-working leader, but Harris has missed Jones’ competitive edge and light spirit during practices the most.
“Now that he is back and we are in the midst of spring ball, it’s fun,” Harris said. “We’ll always hear him chirping on the sidelines. We have a good time. What also makes it fun is that we are huge competitors, so we don’t like to lose. Even in video games.”
It may be nice to be back on the field and at practice competing with his teammates again, but Jones doesn’t plan on going full-throttle until this fall.
“I feel good about where I’m at,” Jones said. “and where I’m heading.”