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That creates what Yergler called "an unstable area.""If he had gotten hit when his head was down," Yergler said, "there could have been a catastrophe--paralysis or death."Krug's condition was detected after he sprained his neck in the Blue-Gold scrimmage April 20.
He was hit by Irish defensive tackle Melvin Dansby, who, coincidentally, had missed the '95 season with a neck injury of his own.
Tom Krug could have followed Drew Bledsoe's footsteps at Washington State. Instead he picked Notre Dame, realizing he likely would spend most of his fall Saturdays on the sidelines, wearing a baseball cap and holding a clipboard."A lot of college coaches said, `Come here and within a year, you'll be a starter,' " said Butch Cattolico, Krug's godfather and coach at Los Gatos (Calif.) High School.
"But he always said, `My dream is to play quarterback at Notre Dame.' "Last year, 10 games into his junior season, Krug got his chance when starter Ron Powlus broke his left arm against Navy. Willard Yergler, Notre Dame's team physician, told Krug he had a rare congenital defect in his neck that will end his football career.
"They don't understand how he could play so long without any problems or pain."Krug was unavailable for comment Friday but he said in a statement that he plans to return to the sidelines next season."I love Notre Dame," Krug said.
"And I want to do whatever I can to help this team next fall."Krug, who had two years of eligibility left, was never a prima donna on the field.
Krug's injury appeared to be nothing serious, but it prompted Yergler to order X-rays, which revealed the defect.
The X-rays were then sent to several experts for confirmation."Tom and his family are having a hard time dealing with this," Cattolico said.
His second and third vertebrae are fused to each other.Against Navy, Krug muffed two handoffs and threw to the wrong receiver on one play.At the time, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said of his free-spirited signal-caller: "Sometimes with Tom Krug you don't know what to expect."Off the field, Krug was known for dating Sherri Vitale, the daughter of a certain shiny-domed broadcaster.This spring, Krug battled sophomore Jarious Jackson for the right to back up Powlus. Jackson, who earned offensive most valuable player honors after Saturday's final Blue-Gold scrimmage, will be Powlus' backup, followed by incoming freshman Eric Chappell, a 6-5, 220-pounder from Montgomery, Ala."Right now, Jarious makes enough mistakes to get coaches fired," Holtz said.
At 6 feet 5 inches and 210 pounds, Krug dished out as much punishment as he withstood."He was a real physical player," Cattolico said.
"He played free safety for us for three years."During his time on the field, Krug had also earned a reputation as somewhat of a flake.