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‘Miracle’ Drake Johnson injury not more serious

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan tailback Drake Johnson might be as star-crossed as they come.

Johnson, who has twice endured anterior cruciate ligament knee tears, was involved in an accident at Michigan’s indoor track and field building on Wednesday and has required medical attention, according to a UM statement released Thursday.

“On Wednesday, an accident occurred at the indoor track and field building involving student-athlete Drake Johnson,” the statement read. “He was evaluated by a U-M athletic department team physician and was referred to the U-M Health system for further evaluation.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking Thursday on the Big Ten call, said it was a “miracle” Johnson was not injured more seriously.

He did not offer details of what happened, saying the specifics should come from Johnson and his family.

“He’s doing well,” said Harbaugh, who visited with Johnson Wednesday night. “I can tell you this, it would have killed a lesser man, but he is blue twisted steel, very flexible and amazing. But it’s one of those miraculous things and he is doing well.”

“Would’ve killed a lesser man” is the quote made famous by Bo Schembechler after he was run over in practice by a player in full pads. Schembechler had been asked to assess his condition after the accidental practice hit.

UM’s Butt: NCAA ignoring best interests of athletes

Harbaugh was asked about Johnson’s prognosis and whether this would affect his football future. Johnson is entering his final year of eligibility, and while De’Veon Smith is the lead back, Johnson will be competing for playing time with Ty Isaac and early-enrollee freshmen Kingston Davis and Kareem Walker.

“I’m not a doctor, (but) talking to him, a week or two or three at the most,” Harbaugh said of Johnson being sidelined. “It’s a miracle right up there with Easter. Just thanking God he is all right, that’s my thoughts on it.”

Johnson posted a short message on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

“All I can say is thank god,” he wrote.

Teammate Jake Butt said on the conference call he has not yet had a chance to speak directly with Johnson.

“I saw him post a Snapchat yesterday, he seems to be in good spirits and everything like that,” Butt said. “I’m sure knowing the kind of guy Drake is he’ll come out of this pretty strong.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Johnson is a fifth-year senior running back, who recently has added running hurdles with the Michigan track team to his repertoire. He was a state track champion at Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Johnson has had more than his share of bad luck with injuries during his Michigan career. He tore his ACL for the first time in 2013 in the season opener against Central Michigan, and after returning from that injury had breakout performances late in the 2014 season. In the season finale at Ohio State in 2014, Johnson suffered another torn ACL.

He said this spring his left knee was getting stronger because of running track.

Johnson has rushed for 641 yards during his career, including 271 on 54 carries and four touchdowns last fall. He also had two touchdown receptions.

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