Georgia Tech’s Jaylend Ratliffe not cleared for football

Georgia Tech freshman Jaylend Ratliffe will not be able to fulfill his dream of playing college football. After suffering a brain injury in an ATV accident as a high schooler in July 2014 that left him near death, Ratliffe delayed his arrival to Tech by a year, enrolling in January. He had hoped to be cleared by Tech’s medical team, but he has been deemed a safety risk to play, coach Paul Johnson said Thursday.

Johnson said that Ratliffe handled the news “as well as could be accepted. I think he knew it was coming, but our doctors are never going to clear him to play.”

He will continue his schooling on medical scholarship. Ratliffe will assist quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook as a student coach. Ratliffe, who was offered a scholarship to play at Tech before the injury, was told after the accident that his scholarship would be honored regardless of his physical condition.

Asked if he thought Ratliffe was looking forward to the assignment, Johnson said, “I think so. He’s such a good kid.”

In an interview in December, Ratliffe said he had been cleared by his own neurosurgeon, but acknowledged that he still might not get the chance to play at Tech.

“I’m there to graduate from college,” he said. “At the end of the day, football is just a game. Yeah, I would love to play football, but if they took football away from me, I’d still be Jaylend. I’d still walk around with a smile on my face.”