By JOHN RABY
West Virginia linebacker Doug Rigg can laugh now, joking that a jarring hit from teammate Karl Joseph in a game at Oklahoma left him a few inches shorter.
Last week’s helmet-to-helmet collision knocked Rigg unconscious, and the concussion he suffered will keep him on the sidelines when the Mountaineers (1-1) play Georgia State (0-2) on Saturday.
The senior was injured during the fourth quarter of last week’s 16-7 loss to the Sooners. Rigg was taken off the field on a cart and went to a hospital but rejoined his teammates for the flight back to Morgantown.
Rigg said he remembers trying to tackle Sooners running back Brennan Clay. The next thing he knows, West Virginia trainer Dave Kerns is standing over him, telling him to wake up.
“Honestly, when I got hit, everything just went black,” Rigg said. “People told me I was out for like 30 seconds. It felt like I literally just got hit and then somebody was talking to me, so that’s all I can really remember.”
Coach Dana Holgorsen called Rigg’s concussion “very, very minor” and said the player was on the receiving end of something meant for Clay.
“It was a scary situation obviously,” Holgorsen said. “He was knocked out cold. The running back kind of saw Karl coming and ducked. And Doug was right behind him. So Karl ended up being the one that kind of knocked him silly. Thankfully and luckily, Doug’s doing just fine.”
As teammates gathered on one knee nearby while Rigg was being worked on, linebacker Darwin Cook said his emotions got worse with every passing moment that Rigg didn’t move.
“I started crying after the first test,” Cook said. “He didn’t move, then he moved his arm and I started crying some more. And then they did the third test on him — he (can’t) feel his finger — and I just started bawling. But when I found out he was OK, it was so satisfying. It was like we won the game when I found out he was OK.”
Rigg said he later saw a “ridiculous” amount of messages on his cellphone from concerned friends and loved ones. So rather reply to individual texts, he went on social media to let people know he’d be fine.
“People (were) saying they’re not going to bed until they hear from me,” Rigg said.
Getting on the plane with the team was a “crazy feeling” because a lot of people, even himself, were worried he might have to stay in the hospital overnight, Rigg said.
“I show up on the plane and everybody just turned and looked over at me,” he said. “They were happy to see that I could travel back.”
No one was happier than Joseph.
“It was definitely a relief because we thought he was going to stay overnight,” Joseph said. “We’re just hoping to get him back on the field as soon as he can.”
Rigg said the hit shows how much respect he has for Joseph, whose physical play and No. 8 jersey number have earned him the nickname “Crazy Eight.”
“I think I might be on his highlight tape,” Rigg said. “The guy can hit. The guy’s pretty good. I think if I saw him coming, I would at least be able to brace myself. The fact I didn’t see him, that’s what really got me.”
Rigg said he still has “off and on” headaches, and in order to return to practice, he must show no concussion symptoms for three consecutive days. Rigg said he hopes to return for the Mountaineers’ Sept. 21 game against Maryland in Baltimore.