ShareThis Page

Gorman: Even hurt, don't sell Jarvis short

Kevin Gorman
| Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009

Eugene Jarvis got up from the hit awkwardly, felt pain after a few quick breaths and knew something was wrong. That didn't stop him from playing. Nothing would until halftime, when Kent State coach Doug Martin saw blood flushing down the urinal that Jarvis just used.

The pain got worse, and Jarvis was taken to the hospital upon returning from the 34-7 loss Sept. 12 at Boston College. That's when the fifth-year senior running back from Central Catholic learned he had a lacerated kidney.

"It was devastating when those words came out of the doctor's mouth," Jarvis said. "Words can't explain how I felt. It was like the walls caved in on me. Honestly, I didn't know if I was done for college, if I was done for good. I didn't want my college career to end on that note.

"I didn't see anything like that coming. Nobody did."

The news would only get worse.

A CT scan revealed he was born with only one kidney.

"That was another shock," said Jarvis, of East Liberty. "I never knew I only had one kidney."

Jarvis is slowly regaining his health. He serves as a captain for the opening coin toss, although it absolutely kills him to stand on the sidelines on game days. Nothing he can do, except to counteract a negative with a positive.

Only 5-foot-5, 170 pounds, Jarvis has had a lifetime of hearing he was too small to play football, despite his breathtaking ability to make defenders miss. His determination distinguishes him from players twice his size.

Being short didn't stop him from rushing for 2,196 yards and 38 touchdowns as a senior on Central's PIAA Class AAAA champions. It didn't stop him from running for a Kent State-record 1,669 yards as a sophomore in 2007. Or from rushing for 3,426 career yards, just 563 shy of the school record.

Jarvis has unfinished business. He wants to play again.

"As people know Eugene, he's such a competitor and fighter," Kent State running backs coach Jerry McManus said. "This was only a temporary setback."

In announcing Jarvis' season-ending injury, Martin was adamant that the school would appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. Already angered by a redshirt forced upon Jarvis as a freshman, when a high school course wasn't cleared by the NCAA until midway through the season, Martin calls the case a "slam dunk."

"I don't want to hear any excuses," Martin said of Jarvis, who is on track to graduate in December with a degree in sports and recreation management. "If this kid doesn't get a sixth year, everybody at Kent should storm the NCAA and burn the place down."

Jarvis would settle for a chance to play football again. He considers the injury a blessing in disguise. Without it, how would he have ever known he only had one kidney• Jarvis figures he could have ended up on dialysis - or worse - but now plans to play while wearing a custom-made rib protector.

"Instead, I'm getting better," Jarvis said, "and I'm going to be able to play the game I love."

If not at Kent State, maybe the next level.

Where Jarvis once used undersized San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles for inspiration, he now hopes to join Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Cromartie and Baltimore Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger as NFL players with only one kidney.

"I don't know if there's any GM in the NFL that would ever put a stamp (of approval) on Eugene Jarvis," McManus said, "but if he gets an opportunity, the only thing I can say is, he'll make the best of it. One kidney, 5-foot-5 ... if somebody gives him a chance, I can guarantee they won't make a mistake."

The mistake would be underestimating Jarvis in the first place.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.