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USC football: Stafon Johnson awake and alert

September 29, 2009 | 11:09 am

USC tailback Stafon Johnson is communicating non-verbally with his mother and several teammates at the hospital where he underwent lengthy surgery last night after a weight-room accident.

Doctors have also begun to remove some of the medical equipment that Johnson had been hooked up to, Coach Pete Carroll said.

"That's good news," Carroll said during a teleconference this morning. "He's doing well."

Johnson was starting his bench-press lifts on Monday when he apparently lost control of the bar and it fell on his neck. He reportedly spit up blood through his mouth and nose.

A source close to the family told The Times that doctors at California Hospital Medical Center had to realign his larynx.

The team remains in a state of shock, Carroll said.

"It's kind of disbelief that something could happen like that," he said. "We'll be dealing with this all week and past that."

-- David Wharton

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