OU CORNERBACK in critical condition after car accident

Saturday, May 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ For Oklahoma cornerback Michael Thompson, getting back on the football field is the least of his concerns.

He faces the much more difficult challenge of recovering from a serious car wreck.

Thompson, 20, remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday, a day after his pickup truck slammed into a tree in Norman.

He underwent eight hours of surgery to repair a broken leg, jaw and ankle. He also had cuts to both knees, a deep cut to his right hamstring and a pelvic injury that caused internal bleeding, said Dr. David Teague, an orthopedic surgeon.

Thompson also fractured several ribs, broke a collar bone and bruised his lungs. He is in the intensive care unit of University Hospital and a ventilator is helping him breathe.

Doctors say he will need more surgery in the coming weeks and his prospects for playing competitive football again are uncertain.

``He always had the hardest job of anybody in the secondary,'' co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. ``He's the guy we put out there on everybody's top receiver.''

Thompson started in all 13 games as a sophomore for the national champions.

``He's a better person than he is a player. That says it all,'' Stoops said.

Thompson was selected to the academic All-Big 12 first team as a sophomore. As a freshman, he was named to the Big 12 Conference Commissioner's honor roll.

Investigators aren't sure why Thompson's 1994 Nissan pickup truck ran off a road and struck a tree at 1 p.m. Thursday. Police estimated his speed at the time of impact at 70 mph.

Firefighters had to free Thompson from the wreckage, said Lt. Chris West, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman. Thompson was wearing a seat belt.

West said there was no indication of drugs or alcohol at the scene.

Doctors won't speculate on when or if Thompson will play football again, let alone when he'll get out of the hospital, Teague said.

``The biggest concern with all of us is just getting him healthy and getting him to walk out of that hospital,'' Stoops said.

``There's just so much to the kid. Football is just a small part of who he is.''