CANTON, Ohio -- The Walsh University Cavaliers open their 2012 football season in Kentucky on Thursday with one of their star players in a hospital intensive care unit.
Brett Wycinski, 21, remains at Mercy Medical Center in Canton where he is making a slow and difficult recovery from a serious traumatic head injury he suffered during a team scrimmage at Fawcett Stadium on Aug. 18.
Wycinski, a starting senior defensive back, ended up in a pile. His parents said he looked 'wobbly' as he slowly made his way to the sidelines where he dropped to his knees.
"He was basically able to, from what I understand, initially walk off the field but complained of a headache and then had a seizure and lost consciousness," said Dr. Al Rudick of Mercy Medical Center, one of several physicians who are caring for Wycinski.
Surgeons had to remove a part of Wycinski's skull to relieve the pressure on his brain.
His supportive family has been by his side ever since.
"I have always felt a calm about his situation, that everything is going to be alright, and it is because of our faith, and it is because of our family," said Brett's, mother Patty Wycinski.
"He's shown, pretty much from the first time they tried to see where he was at, that he definitely wasn't going to let this get him down," said his father, Art, adding, "he knows that things aren't the way they used to be and he wants them to be that way. As we progress through this I have no doubt that he will come through this just fine."
Despite suffering several setbacks, Wycinski's family is drawing strength from the progress he has been making, celebrating the small victories made from ICU.
"He's a fighter, he really is, once he sets his mind on something he is bound and determined to complete it. He's going to finish it and he's going to do it 100-percent," said Nate Wycinski, Brett's older brother.
"Hell keep fighting. Every day we see improvements in him. It's not happening as fast as we want it to but he'll get through it," added his girlfriend, Kim Hush.
The conversation across the country regarding head injuries and football has been growing. Wycinski's doctors said they have seen concussions suffered on the football field but the severity of the injury suffered by Wycinski is unusual.
"Football is a contact sport, can be very dangerous, but Brett's injury is atypical for even football injuries. You usually do not see bleeds, gross bleeds, like this in a football injury," said Dr. Kirby Sweitzer of Mercy Medical Center.
Wycinski's family said they have drawn great strength from the coaches, players and support of the extended football family of Walsh University.
Players traveling to Kentucky on Thursday were wearing Wycinski's number 12 on their helmets.
"I have always felt from the beginning, Brett Wycinski is going to do something that they don't expect him to do and honestly I think we have made great strides," said his mother.
"It's going to take time and you can't rush it. He's the one that's going to dictate how fast this journey is," his father told Fox 8 News on Thursday. "Knowing him, if he puts his mind to something, he's going to take the fast track," he added.
"Because of our faith, we do believe this is going to open something else for him. This is gong to open another door and one day we will see why this happened and if this is happening because he can touch someone else's life in a different way, that's okay, we have to deal with it," said Wycinski's girlfriend.
"I just want people to know that I don't have any doubt that he's going to be fine and I want other people to feel that way," concluded Wycinski's brother. "They need to be strong for us, we need all the strength we can get."