PIEDMONT — Keith Vick's football career ended on the basketball court over the summer. The Piedmont star wide receiver suffered a concussion and had to decide whether to put himself at further risk by strapping on a helmet for the Wildcats this fall.
His decision comes at a time when the state is trying to better manage the reporting and treatment of concussions following the state government's passing of Oklahoma Statute 24-155 of Title 70, which focuses on concussion and head injury awareness and management.
"He'd had a couple concussions before I got here last year," Piedmont football coach Rob Green said. "Then he had another one in summer basketball, and he had to contemplate what might be on the line if he had another one."
So Vick gave up football to hopefully lessen the chance of yet another concussion, and still continue his basketball career.
Most years, a program like Piedmont might not be able to overcome the loss of an All-State-caliber player, but Green still has 14 starters back without Vick, including quarterback Cole Davis.
"He started five games for us and has done nothing but gotten better," Green said of his 5-foot-11, 170-pound quarterback. "And he has Taylor Ashcraft at tailback, who turned out to be a real strong runner for us."
Ashcraft rushed for 850 yards over the final six games of the season, which ended 2-8 for the Wildcats. But with so much talent back, expectations are much higher this year.
"We still have two returning wide receivers and our offensive line is pretty much in tact," Green said. "We still have a long ways to go, but we feel pretty good about it — a heck of a lot better than we felt 12 months ago."
As for replacing Vick, Green hopes someone will emulate what Vick did from his sophomore to junior seasons.
"Keith had 47 catches last year, but he only had four the year before that," Green said. "We need someone to step in there and do that, step up and make plays."