On Monday February 24, 2014 Hunter Knighton went to an off-season workout for football at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The workout was called U Tough. Competing in lifts and drills, the best performers earned the coveted black jersey signaling a starting position. He had completed it five times before, each time earning a black jersey. He was in great physical condition. He finally weighed enough to be an offensive lineman after gaining 30 to 40 pounds since his arrival to UM. He was a red shirt freshman excited and eager to prove himself on the field. But this time things were different. He had been sick all weekend with a severe sore throat, body aches and congestion. He told the athletic trainer he was not feeling well, that he had been sick in bed all weekend and the trainer gave him a throat lozenge and sent him out to practice. Within 45 four minutes a coach noticed that he was going the wrong way, was uncoordinated and pulled him out of the drill. He was combative. He began having seizures. It took over 6 players to try to load him in a cart. An ambulance was called. They drove the cart across the practice field to the parking lot and waited to meet the ambulance. When it arrived, they loaded him in the ambulance which took him to the closest hospital about a 5 min drive. No temperature was ever taken, no cooling measures ever administered until he reached the hospital. His temperature was 109 degrees.
Hunter battles for 12 days and somehow survives. After he leaves the hospital the real battle begins…. putting Hunter back together. There was no plan coming from Sports Medicine or the Athletic Training at UM. For 6 months Hunter was floundering, but once he received help from the Korey Stringer Institute Hunter was able to have a plan and physically and mentally train to get back on the field. Overcoming many physical obstacles he did return to play in 2015. He was able to graduate early and continued his education and football career at Tulane University earning his MBA. He was awarded the Brian Piccolo Award as the most courageous Atlantic Coast Conference player and was honored at the Orange Bowl as The College Football Writers Association Courage Award winner. He currently resides in NC with his wife Emily and works as a data analyst.