Georgia Tech will honor the football scholarship offer made to Jaylend Ratliffe, the high school quarterback from North Carolina who is recovering from a brain injury.
Ratliffe suffered a fractured skull in an ATV accident last Wednesday. He has undergone several operations and remains in intensive care at a Charlotte hospital.
The 3-star quarterback was one of the first commitments for Georgia Tech’s 2015 recruiting class, pledging the Yellow Jackets last March.
“Georgia Tech has said that they will follow through and support his scholarship, regardless of his condition,” Scotland High School coach Richard Bailey told the AJC on Thursday.
“Their words were ‘Jaylend is ours, and we are going to take him any way we can” – that they would honor his scholarship whether he could play or not. That was very comforting to the family.
Ratliffe’s return to health – and not football – in the main focus right now. After some scary moments last weekend, including a medically-induced coma to reduce swelling on the brain, Ratliffe’s condition appears to be improving.
His coach described it as “a bunch of small steps in a journey of 100 miles.”
“The doctors really seem positive about his progress,” Bailey said. “I tell people he’s doing better, and I think they envision that he’s getting ready to come home from the hospital. That’s the furthest thing from the truth.
“But I told somebody the other day that I’ve gone from praying every minute that he would just survive the day … to now praying about how well he’s going to come back. ‘How is his long-term prognosis going to be?’
“I feel like we’re past the point where he could die any minute … to now it’s just praying about his progress. I believed all along he was going to pull through. But it was very much touch-and-go there for awhile.”
Ratliffe was taken off his ventilator on Wednesday, so he could breath on his own and strengthen his lungs. He can’t talk yet but is trying. He has been responsive to commands and is starting to recognize people in the room.
“The doctors said that with Jaylend being so young and a great athlete, it is working in his favor,” Bailey said.
“The doctors haven’t said that he won’t be able to make a full comeback. But you just never know with brain injuries. That’s the one thing they’ve repeated consistently to his mother and me: ‘Every brain injury is different. Some people make full recoveries, while others do not.’”
Georgia Tech assistant Bryan Cook, who has recruited Ratliffe for the Yellow Jackets, has communicated with Bailey nearly every day, while coach Paul Johnson has also called.
“Coach Johnson told us that on his recruiting visit that when Jaylend committed – and before this (ATV accident happened) — that if he got injured or blew out a knee, that they would honor his scholarship,” Bailey said.
“We were holding them to that, but they already came forward this week and said that they were going to do that. And they made very sure that I knew that. Georgia Tech has been really good to us.”
As a junior, Ratliffe led Scotland to an appearance in the Class AAAA state championship game.
Note: Several fundraisers have been set up to help Ratliffe and his family with medical expenses:
- A fund at State Employees Credit Union (SECU) by Laurinburg Police and Scotland County Rescue Squad. This account is only accessible to Ratliffe’s mother, Sharon, and anyone can donate through any SECU branch.
- The website GoFundMe.com has raised more than $8,000
We’ll provide more information when it becomes available