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Penn State Football: LeGrand And Taliaferro to Serve As Captains for Rutgers-Penn State Game

by on August 12, 2014 4:30 PM

Sometimes things transcend the game.

And when Penn State and Rutgers meet this season on Sept. 13, Eric LeGrand of Rutgers and Penn State’s Adam Taliaferro will be a reminder of that as they both serve has honorary game captains.

Having both suffered through horrific spinal cord injuries, the two will be forever linked as Taliaferro's injury --and eventual recovery-- would continue to inspire LeGrand who suffered a similar injury in 2010. LeGrand's own battle acting not only an inspiration to Taliaferro in return, but a reminder of how truly lucky he is.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said LeGrand in a release. “Adam is a role model for me. From meeting him for the first time, seeing him on his feet again when doctors told him he’d never be on his feet, he has really pushed me during my recovery. He’s still a big inspiration to me.”

“For me, it’s an absolute honor to share this with Eric,” Taliaferro said. “Eric has inspired me ever since his injury and continues to do so each and every day.”

Despite being given a five-percent chance to ever walk again after a hard tackle against Ohio State in 2000, Taliaferro would do just that, running out of the tunnel with the team to open the 2001 season. He now serves on Penn State's Board of Trustees 

LeGrand was paralyzed while making a tackle on a kickoff against Army at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 16, 2010 and though he remains confined to a wheel chair, paralyzed from the neck down, LeGrand says he has gained some trunk movement and occasionally has sensation in his fingers.

“What makes this so special for me is that Adam was in touch with me from the very beginning,” said LeGrand. “I remember when I was first transferred to Kessler Institute; he came to see me the first month and a half. He has been supporting me and encouraging me from the start.”

The injury and the road to recovery is something that has helped grow a bond between the two athletes.

“I remember seeing Eric a couple of days after his injury,” Taliaferro said, “and I remember the first thing he told me is `I’m going to be just like you. I’m going to walk out of this.’ For him to still have that same tenacity to this day, as I said, Eric continues to inspire me. I believe in my heart he will get up and walk someday."

It will be an emotional night for both programs as they battle in their respective Big Ten openers, but it will be a strong reminder that the game is simply a game, and that life, inspiration and hope are so much more important.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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