Tenn. Tech receiver Hixon remains in coma

TAMPA, Fla. -- The parents of a Tennessee Tech receiver who
remains in a coma after being injured in a helmet-to-helmet
collision are optimistic their son will recover and eventually
graduate from college.

Drew Hixon, son of Washington Redskins assistant Stan Hixon, has
been in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital since being
carted off the field during the second quarter of the Golden
Eagles' 21-7 loss to South Florida last Saturday.

The impact of the hit knocked the younger Hixon's helmet off.

"He has not regained consciousness; however we are very
encouraged by the progress he has shown. ... We're looking forward
to his recovery," Stan Hixon said at a news conference, also
attended by the player's mother, Rebecca; a younger sister and the
receiver's girlfriend.

Doctors have told the Hixons that the 22-year-old senior could
regain consciousness at any time. Their son is a transfer from LSU
where his father was an assistant last season when the Tigers won
the Bowl Championship Series title for their first national
championship in 45 years.

"It's day to day. ... It could be week to week," the father

The Hixons were unable to share many details about the injury or
their son's condition, other than to say they were originally told
that Drew had a brain bruise. Doctors did not attend the news
conference, held in the hospital auditorium.

"He does make a lot of movements, both positive and negative,"
Stan Hixon said, adding that Drew also appears to respond to some
voices, including his mother's.

The parents described Drew as a quiet and reserved young man,
who loves family and football. A finance major, his mother said he
needs two classes to earn a degree at Tennessee Tech in December.
He attended high school in Kennesaw, Ga.

"That won't happen, we're pretty sure," Mrs. Hixon said. "But
we believe he will graduate."

Stan Hixon has been in almost daily contact with Redskins coach
Joe Gibbs, and the NFL club sent the team chaplain to Tampa to
spend time with the family.

Hixon is a native of nearby Lakeland, and several family members
were in the stands with Rebecca and one of Drew's two sisters for
the game last weekend.

"There's shock and disbelief, then a realization that this is
real and I'm not dreaming," Mrs. Hixon said. "Dealing with it and
being strong is the next stage."

Stan Hixon was in Washington preparing for the Redskins' season
opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he received a call
from his wife. He flew to Florida on Sunday morning and plans to
remain during the period of uncertainty.

The elder Hixon has watched tape of the hit and noted his son
was hurt on a pass play that's fairly common in football.

"I've seen it happen before and guys get up and walk away. You
see some hits where guys barely get hit and they [get] hurt,"
Hixon said, adding that Drew's injury hasn't change his perspective
about injuries.

"It's a collision sport. It's a tough, physical sport. Injuries
happen. We know as players and coaches that you're one play away
from getting hurt. But obviously no one feels he's going to get

Randy Smith, an assistant athletic director at Tennessee Tech,
has been in Tampa since early in the week and plans to stay until
the school's football trainer returns after this weekend's game at

Smith said Hixon's teammates are "still a little shocked, which
is to be expected" and will dedicate Saturday's game to the