Wide receiver Blair Holliday was critically injured in a jet ski accident last month and has recently been transferred at Atlanta's Shepherd Center, known for rehabilitating athletes with brain and spinal cord injuries.
Before his departure his coaches and teammates gathered Sunday at the hospital to say goodbye to #8 and to offer encouragement.
"The difference between the beginning and going in there yesterday was pretty amazing and pretty uplifting," Head Coach David Cutcliffe said. "He was what I would call aware, happy that his friends were there."
The team took to the field Monday for their first training camp practice, and this year, the players said they are using Holliday's tragic accident as their motivation. The team said it is poised to win, if not for themselves, but also for their missing teammate.
"Even though we may not say it, we're playing for him. We're going to make sure we get him to a Bowl game," defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento said.
While the team works toward that goal this season, they will also be striving toward another. The team has created a fund raiser to support Holliday's family and help pay for medical bills. The goal is to raise $40,000 for the family, and so far the team has raised over $17,000. T-shirts saying "Pray For Eight" will soon go on sale.