When K.J. Hill saw Cincinnati safety Kyriq McDonald fall to the ground and begin convulsing at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter in Ohio State’s 42-0 win on Saturday, he had an idea of what was happening.
“My grandma used to have seizures,” Hill said on Tuesday. “I knew exactly what it was.”
McDonald lined up across from Hill, seven yards away from him in man coverage. As Ohio State snapped the ball, he seemed to try to backpedal but fell backward and began convulsing.
Cincinnati has not confirmed whether McDonald had a seizure.
Hill ran directly toward McDonald. But rather than blocking him, he realized what was happening mid-play and backed off of him. J.K. Dobbins, running to McDonald’s side, picked up 24 yards on the play.
“I just kept going with the play, but at the same time I was a little shook because I seen him having a seizure,” Hill said. “I know what a seizure looks like. So I just knew after the play immediately somebody needed to come to him. I was trying to get somebody’s attention, but they got to him.”
The scary moment led to a minutes-long delay in the game as McDonald got carted off of the field. As he was loaded onto the cart, the entire Bearcats team and several Ohio State players surrounded him to offer support.
The entire Cincinnati team and a few Ohio State players gathered around Kyriq McDonald as he was placed on a cart and taken off the field. pic.twitter.com/ZHmXceqRCM— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) September 7, 2019
ESPN’s Allison Williams reported during the game that McDonald has a history of seizures. When playing for Alabama, a “similar situation” happened to McDonald two years ago in the national title game, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Hill, though, did't know that, and he didn’t initially think McDonald was about to collapse backward.
“Pre-snap, he was lined up man against me, so I'm staring at him,” Hill said. “I see what I'm about to do, make a play. And I could just see his eyes rolling back in his head. At first, I thought he was trying to intimidate me or something, do something because people do that in football all the time. But when I seen him start shaking, I knew something was wrong, so I didn't even bother touching him or anything.”
On Monday, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell said McDonald is “back in there with us.”
“He was cleared obviously to be back (with) us and things like that,” Fickell said on Monday’s AAC teleconference, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He's going to see some people (Monday) to try to find out what the long-term issues or situations could be and then we're going to have to make some decisions.”