Auburn-commit awaits decision after injuring elbow

Photo by Bush Enos

Georgia’s top-ranked high school quarterback going into the 2014 season and one of the nation’s top signal-callers may find his senior season of football in jeopardy.

Auburn commitment and North Cobb starting quarterback Tyler Queen injured his elbow on March 14 while pitching for the Warriors’ baseball team. The details of the injury revealed that the ulnar collateral ligament was damaged. Injuries to the UCL are most often linked to Tommy John surgery.

Queen was supposed to compete in The Elite 11 quarterback competition in Atlanta on Friday for a regional qualifier. Approximately 80 of the best quarterbacks from 17 different states hit the field at Gary Pirkle Park in Sugar Hill looking to qualify for the national competition in Oregon later this summer. Queen had entered the competition as one of the headliners of the event, but is not participating. He plays for his father, Shane, the head coach at North Cobb, who said his son may be able to compete at a later Elite 11 competition.

This injury is expected to end Queen’s baseball season early, but depending on the method of treatment, he still may be able to play football come fall. Unlike a pitcher in baseball, a quarterback can possibly rehab his way around this type of injury. This is a decision, however, that will be left up to Dr. James Andrews. Andrews, who is the leading specialist in repairing damaged ligaments (particularly to the elbow, knee and shoulder), is a team doctor for Auburn (as well as Alabama and the Washington Redskins). He is considered the best mind in the business and will ultimately make the decision.

“Supposedly at the quarterback position, you do not need that ligament,” said his father, coach Queen when contacted Friday. “We’re supposed to meet with Dr. Andrews and I’m taking him [Tyler] down to Pensacola Monday morning to meet with Andrews.”

The North Cobb medical staff cleared Tyler to perform in the Elite 11 competition on Friday, but they later decided to ensure that no further damage could be done.

“We’re just making sure we’re covering our bases,” said the elder Queen.

Queen was actually able to throw with his receivers during a workout Thursday morning,  and, according to those on hand including his father, the 6-foot-2, 229-pound junior did not show any decrease in his arm strength or accuracy during the throwing session. Tyler has been North Cobb’s starter since his freshman season and paced the Warriors to a Cobb County team record for yardage and total points his sophomore season.

During his breakout sophomore season, Queen passed for 2,398 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 918 and 19 TD’s, leading North Cobb to the state semifinals. Last year, he passed for 2,003 yards and 21 TD’s and ran for 436 yards and nine touchdowns, the Warriors losing in the second round of the playoffs.

There have been NFL quarterbacks that have gone down different paths when faced with this type of injury. Carson Palmer chose to avoid surgery after injuring his UCL during the 2008 season. He sat the rest of the year but in the five seasons following his injury, Palmer has completed 1,550 of 2,517 passes (61.6 percent) for 106 touchdowns and 85 interceptions and has remained at a high level.

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme elected to have the surgery after his UCL was badly injured in 2007. Delhomme made a successful comeback and led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a first-round bye his first season back from surgery.





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