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Back Injury Cuts Jaynes’ Career Short at Western Carolina
Herniated disc in his back forces Jaynes to sideline; prematurely ends career
Western Carolina redshirt junior quarterback Zack Jaynes has made the decision to end his football playing career citing safety and future health concerns surrounding a herniated disc that he suffered back in May of 2009. Jaynes met with the Catamount coaching staff on Sunday to relay his decision.
Jaynes made 19-consecutive starts under center for the Catamounts since winning the job early in his redshirt freshman season in 2008. He will remain with the team as a student assistant and will continue to work with the quarterbacks with which he battled to earn the starting job at the beginning of the season. Jaynes is on track to graduate from the WCU College of Business in May with a degree in Entrepreneurship.
With the change, WCU head coach Dennis Wagner has named junior transfer Zac Brindise – who is coming off a 300-yard, four-touchdown pass performance against Tusculum – as the starting quarterback. It will be the first start of Brindise’s collegiate career. The South Fort Myers, Fla., native saw action in one game at the University of South Carolina prior to making the move to Cullowhee prior to this season’s fall camp. He has played in both of the Catamounts’ first two games, tossing four TD passes in his first 45 attempts.
“I’ve been playing football for a long time – it’s one of the things I love to do the most. It was a tough decision for me to step away from the game, but I have to look out for myself. This is what’s better for me, my health and my future,” said Jaynes. “I wasn’t able to perform to my best ability. I’ve tried to tolerate as much as I can, but right now, it’s better for both me and for the team.”
Jaynes, who has been hampered with a herniated disc in his lower back since off-season workouts in May, wrestled with the decision following Saturday night’s home loss to Tusculum.
“I’m not a quitter and I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m looking forward to helping with the team and helping our quarterbacks,” said Jaynes. “I’m confident that we will move forward and not miss a beat at the quarterback position – (Zac) Brindise is a great quarterback.”
Throughout preseason, the Canton, N.C., native deflected questions about his health status and never missed a meeting or practice. He continued to battle through the continual back pain with a variety of treatments in the WCU athletic training room, often times receiving multiple treatments daily. Outside aid was also sought for Jaynes as he saw several specialists and tried everything but surgery for treatment.
“Zack Jaynes has never quit anything. The coaches and his teammates have all known that he was in pain, but he never used it as an excuse and never complained. He is a very tough individual that loves the game of football,” Wagner said. “After Saturday’s game, he talked it over with his parents and with a heavy heart, let us know Sunday of his decision. I know it was a very difficult decision for him to make, but for his future and life after football, I feel it is the right one.”
Wagner added, “Zack is a leader on this football team and that is something he will continue as a student assistant with our quarterbacks.”
At North Carolina State, Jaynes tossed his 20th career touchdown pass to tie him for seventh in school history with Jimmy Williams (1964-66). He additionally moved into eighth-place on WCU’s career pass completions chart with 313, by-passing Todd Cottrell (1987-89).
Jaynes was a three-time, All-Western North Carolina and All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) selection, and twice garnered All-State plaudits at Pisgah High in Canton, N.C. A two-time WAC Player of the Year, Jaynes completed 482 of his 802 career passes (60.1%) for 7,591 yards and 65 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,301 yards and 20 TDs. He finished his prep career ranked ninth on the North Carolina record books for passing yards in a career while also establishing a Pisgah record in the same category.
Western Carolina returns to the gridiron this Saturday, Sept. 18 as it travels to Gardner-Webb for a 6:00pm kickoff with the Runnin’ Bulldogs. GWU has won the last two meetings in the head-to-head series including an overtime triumph in Boiling Springs in 2004 and a seven-point win in Cullowhee a season ago.
By Western Carolina University Media Relations