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The mother of a Tennessee State linebacker who is in critical condition after collapsing on the sideline during a game remains optimistic because her son is "still here fighting."
Christion Abercrombie, 20, told athletic trainers he had a headache after coming off the field in the first half of Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt and later collapsed on the way to the locker room for halftime.
He was given oxygen and then rushed to nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery for a head injury.
"Christion is still in critical condition, so I can't say he's doing great, but I'm still blessed, and I feel like my son is blessed because he's still here fighting,'' his mother, Staci Abercrombie, told Gabe Gutierrez on TODAY Thursday.
She said at a news conference Wednesday that one positive is Christion has responded to music by rubbing her nails or raising his hand.
Staci and her husband, Derrick, were both in attendance at the game. They said there was no particular collision that appeared to cause the injury.
"I can't even play it back in my head because I didn't see anything,'' Staci said. "The Vandy coaches have reviewed the film, everyone has reviewed the film. No one can say, 'Oh, it was that hit.' All of them were clean, normal hits."
His parents initially thought he possibly was just dehydrated.
"(TSU officials said) no, it's a little more serious,'' Staci said. "I said, 'Is he alert?' They said, 'No, he's unconscious.'''
Christion's collapse came a day before a high school player from the Abercrombies' home state of Georgia died from an unexplained head injury suffered in a game on Friday night.
The Abercrombies said they are praying for the family of Dylan Thomas, a 16-year-old linebacker at Pike County High School who died on Sunday after saying he had a strange feeling in his legs and losing consciousness on the sideline during Friday's game.
Christion Abercrombie was a star linebacker in the Atlanta area during his high school career before playing two years at the University of Illinois and then transferring to Tennessee State before this season.
He had five tackles and a sack before his injury on Saturday. Staci told Gutierrez that she had no concerns about his safety while playing football but does not know if he will be able to play again.
"I'm most hopeful for today,'' she said. "This is by the grace of God. We're not here by accident."
"I'm hopeful that tomorrow will get even better, and if it's the same then we'll go to the next day. We know it's a process, but we're not rushing it."