Eisenhower football player recovering from spinal cord injury

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WICHITA, Kan. A Goddard high school football player is now awake, talking to family and learning to walk again after suffering a spinal cord injury in Eisenhower High School's game against Maize Saturday.

Tryston Peppard is a resilient, 17-year-old football player who never thought this would happen to him; not until he couldn't feel the right side of his body.

From childhood, Peppard knew he would play football.

"It's just different and that's my favorite sport," he says. "It's always been my favorite sport."

So, when it was the fourth quarter and his team was down with about two minutes left, No. 8 didn't hesitate to go in.

"It was a fight the whole game," Peppard says.

What happened next, Peppard never saw coming. He caught the ball. A Maize defender hit him low and a second player hit him high.

"I just started screaming for the trainer and he immediately came up and grabbed my neck because I told him my neck was hurting pretty bad," Peppard says.

Peppard suffered a spinal cord injury, losing feeling on the right side of his body.

"I couldn't feel my leg, so I didn't think I would be able to walk on it again," he says.

Hours of physical therapy are helping Peppard to use his body again. The work put in over the past few days is all for the moment he's able to stand up and start walking again.

"That weight you get... when you get that weight lifted off your chest; that's basically what it was," Peppard says of taking his first steps since the accident. "I was thinking, 'I'll be able to walk again.'"

Peppard knows he's lucky to be able to walk again and he encourages other players to listen to their bodies.

"(If) you get hit and it hurts, make sure you talk to your trainer, because you never know where it can lead to," he says. "I wish I would have taken more plays out and had them look at my neck earlier, because if I would (have) I maybe would not be here now."

Doctors expect Peppard to make a full recovery.

In the fall of 2014, FactFinder 12 investigator Michael Schwanke traveled to Virginia to see how helmets are tested for safety. You can revisit that story below:

You can revisit stories of Kansas high school football players impacted by head injuries in the clips below: