Eric LeGrand takes part in coin toss

Updated: November 12, 2011, 6:56 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Eric LeGrand was back on the field for Rutgers on Saturday, prior to the team's 27-12 win against Army at Yankee Stadium.

LeGrand, who suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the neck down in a game versus Army last October at the Meadowlands, served as one of Rutgers' captains and participated in the coin toss.

[+] EnlargeEric LeGrand
AP Photo/Paul J. BereswillEric LeGrand took part in the coin toss for Rutgers' game against Army. He was paralyzed while making a tackle on a kickoff return against the Black Knights in October 2010.

"It was cool," said LeGrand, who spoke with reporters during the first half. "Man, I was ready to put on that helmet and run down on that kickoff."

Also participating in the pregame coin toss, as one of Army's captains, was junior running back Malcolm Brown -- the player LeGrand was trying to tackle on that fateful kickoff return. Brown went over to LeGrand and patted him on the shoulder before heading back to the sideline, as did the other Army captains.

"It was good," said LeGrand. "He came up to me and said, 'Hey, how you doing?' 'I'm doing good,' I said. 'Good luck out there today.'"

LeGrand and Brown, and the two football programs, have remained in close contact ever since the incident back on Oct. 16, 2010. That is one reason why Rutgers wore special helmets for Saturday's game, with a red, white and blue "R."

"The class that (coach) Rich Ellerson and the Army football program showed towards Rutgers in this last year has been incredible," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano earlier in the week. "When Eric got injured in that game, Rich Ellerson and his entire football team stayed in constant contact, whether it be through notes -- the whole team wrote him notes at one point -- gifts, Army memorabilia, things that were special to them that they gave, have in Eric's room, to even as late as this summer Coach Ellerson and members of his team coming down to our stadium club and having lunch with Eric."

This was LeGrand's second time on the field with the Scarlet Knights this season. He also led the team out of the tunnel on Oct. 29, prior to a home game against West Virginia. And he has been serving as a radio and television analyst on Rutgers football broadcasts.

Also, LeGrand made another stride in his rehabilitation earlier this week. Doctors originally predicted that LeGrand would never breath without a ventilator again following the injury. On Wednesday, he walked on a treadmill for a full 60 minutes for the first time.

"That's when I felt -- wow -- felt burning in my hamstrings," said LeGrand. "It was good that I actually could feel it though."

As for his feelings on the past year, since last year's game against Army and his injury, LeGrand was looking at the bright side.

"It's probably been the best year of my life," LeGrand said, "(with) how many people I've been able to touch this entire year."

Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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