One former Western Hills football player has just started his college career.
Another one’s has ended.
Christian Wilkins, a true freshman at Kentucky Wesleyan, was in Frankfort Saturday when KWC played Kentucky State.
A reserve on defense, Wilkins is currently the starting long snapper on punts for the Panthers.
Arie Slone, a sophomore at Thomas More College, has had his career cut short by nerve damage in his neck.
Wilkins was a four-year starter on the line for the Wolverines, and he took over long snapping duties near the end of his freshman year.
“That was the big thing,” Wilkins said of long snapping. “They signed me as a defensive tackle and long snapper, but long snapper was the main thing.”
Wilkins snapped the ball seven times in Saturday’s 13-6 win over KSU.
He’s making a rapid adjustment to college football.
“I expected to work hard,” Wilkins said. “I didn’t expect to start. It’s completely different. The speed, it’s just a lot faster than high school football, and how long it takes. The quarters are forever.”
KWC is 1-1 heading into a game Saturday against William Jewell in Liberty, Mo.
Slone, a 2011 graduate of WHHS, also made a rapid adjustment to the college game.
A middle linebacker, he played in all 12 of the Saints’ games last season and was one of just 12 freshmen to letter. Slone was also one of five freshmen named to the team’s playoff roster after winning its fourth straight conference championship.
In addition he was also named first team all-conference for academics.
Slone suffered an injury his senior year of high school that caused nerve damage to his neck.
The stretched nerve does eventually return to normal but will only do that a certain number of times.
Slone went to football camp this summer and was suffering from stingers, which are characterized by a shooting or stinging pain that travels down one arm, followed by numbness and weakness. A senior captain noticed Slone’s arm drop after a drill and reported it to coaches, setting in motion the events that led to the decision for Slone to quit playing football.
According to Slone’s father, Brandon, the family was told by doctors that one good hit could cause Arie to lose the use of his arm.
Slone found out his football career was over on Wednesday before the season opener Labor Day weekend.
He’s now a student assistant with the football team, working with linebackers and breaking down film.
Slone still works out with the team and can lift weights, run, throw the football, just about anything his teammates can do, but he can’t have any contact.