Andrew Hudson lay in the middle of the field at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. Trainers, doctors and coaches rushed to him, including Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. Hudson had been struck in the head by a Nebraska player during a kickoff. He does not remember the hit or the game.
Hudson was in his second year playing Division I college football. OSU was playing the 16th ranked Cornhuskers. It was homecoming for the Cowboys who were also ranked (No. 14) and undefeated at the time (6-0).
“It was a big game for OSU,” Hudson said. “I don’t remember any of it.”
Hudson woke up in the training room with a concussion.
“I forgot so many different things that were going on with my family,” he said. “I was dating someone at the time and I forgot who she was.”
Hudson, who is now throwing the shot put and discus at ACU, had to drop out of OSU for about six weeks to recover.
During his recovery time, he received an article from his trainer. It was about Nathan Stiles, a Kansas high school football player who also experienced a concussion. Nathan returned to the football field a week after the injury and collapsed after scoring a touchdown. He was airlifted to a hospital where he died later that morning.
“His death was six days after my injury at Oklahoma State,” Hudson said. “I felt God was calling me to do something.”
Hudson contacted Nathan’s dad (Ron) on Facebook.
“I had no idea what I was going to tell this father who had just lost his son but I felt called and led to say something.”
Ron responded. He was more than happy to speak with Hudson.
The two talked on the phone then Hudson eventually drove up to Kansas to meet the Stiles family. He met Nathan’s mom (Connie or as Hudson says “Momma Stiles”), dad and sister.
“We didn’t know what to expect at all,” Connie said with a laugh. “We had several people call and say the same thing but they never followed through with it.”
“This big monster of a guy gets out and comes in the house and gives me a hug,” she said. “It was like we’d known him forever.”
Hudson said the Lord healed both him and the Stiles through that event.
“The Stiles are my other family now,” he said. “I surprised Nathan’s little sister at her high school graduation last year and his mom went to several of my track meets at Oklahoma State.”
“I don’t believe in coincidence,” Connie said. “I think God puts people in your path for a reason.”
After returning to OSU, Hudson spent a year and a half in the training room preparing his body to return to the gridiron.
“It wasn’t the ideal college football experience at that point,” Hudson said. “I faced a lot of adversity.”
Because of the head injury and a ruptured disk in his back during his freshman year which required back surgery, Hudson was told he might not be able to play the sport again.
With that news, he went back to his small hometown of Bushland and had an opportunity to speak one on one with Major League Baseball player Josh Hamilton.
“I saw how he used the adversity in his life to glorify the Lord,” Hudson said. “So I thought, I can’t give up football.”
Hudson met with Coach Gundy to talk about his future and was disappointed to hear him and the doctors and trainers advise against playing.
He decided to anyway. The next day Hudson had a headache and felt dizzy. He ended up falling in his room.
“After that I did a little soul searching,” he said. “I decided to let it go.”
Hudson’s days of putting on the shoulder pads and helmet may have been over but he refused to leave the athletic arena. He was involved with track in high school and he had offers after graduation to do that as well.
He walked on to the Cowboys’ track team and, at the same time, walked away from the scholarship he had with football.
“I did that for two seasons,” Hudson said. “Out of state tuition was a lot, so the Lord opened a door for me to come here to ACU.”
Hudson is now a freshman on the Wildcat track team and is happy the Lord led him to Abilene.
“I changed my degree plan (Pre-medical),” he said. “I love Abilene Christian. I’m so happy to be here.”