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AU’s Chaz Ramsey still in limbo after back surgery

AUBURN — Chaz Ramsey’s Auburn football career started off well when the offensive lineman won a starting job as a freshman.

Now, it’s in limbo.

Ramsey sustained a back injury that required surgery after the 2007 season and wound up sparking a dispute between his family and the Auburn training staff regarding the rehabilitation process.

“Going to college, I had my hopes up high,” he told the Mobile Press-Register in a story Tuesday. “I played as a freshman. But when I got injured, things just went downhill from there. It was bad luck the way things played out. They treated it as a business, I guess you could say. When people get hurt, they move on. They’ve got their own jobs to think about.”

Ramsey was injured while lifting weights in December 2007, but managed to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl with the help of pain medication. He is still enrolled at Auburn but hasn’t played since.

The following spring, Ramsey was diagnosed with two herniated discs, one of which was pressing against the sciatic nerve, the longest and widest single nerve in the body.

Ramsey said his back felt fine when he returned to Auburn in late May, about six weeks after undergoing surgery. He said an aggressive treatment program designed by Auburn’s training staff conflicted with the plan laid out by the surgeon and aggravated the problems.

Auburn declined to make head trainer Arnold Gamber or team physician Dr. Michael Goodlett available for interviews with the Mobile paper, citing medical confidentiality laws.

The university released a statement attributed to executive associate athletic director Tim Jackson.

“Each student-athlete’s situation is unique and due to privacy laws and out of respect for those individuals, we will not discuss the details of any student-athlete’s circumstances,” Jackson said. “Both coaches and administrators expect that our student-athletes will conduct themselves in the highest regard, academically, athletically and socially.

“Additionally, we hold our staff to equally high standards in the support and care that they provide for our student-athletes.”

Ramsey, who has the Auburn logo tattooed on his back with wings on either side, said he found his locker cleaned out and personal belongings set on a table just before the start of last season.

Hugh Nall, then Auburn’s offensive line coach, said Ramsey was effectively “suspended from the offensive line” for missing meetings and treatment sessions and not out of retaliation. He said Ramsey would have been allowed to return if he had taken responsibility or apologized.

Ramsey said he missed two summer offensive line meetings after a medication change left him at home “passed out.” He also disputes that he missed any treatment sessions.

Auburn has granted Ramsey a release to transfer to another school, including Southeastern Conference rivals Mississippi and Mississippi State in his home state. Ramsey received offers from some schools to walk-on but no scholarships.

He has an appointment with his surgeon next week to see if he will be medically cleared to play football again. Ramsey said he hasn’t ruled out rejoining the Auburn team.

“I’d like to stay here and get my degree,” he said. “Football is fun. God gave me the talent to play it. But if it doesn’t work out, I can move on with life, get a degree, get a regular job and have a family.”