IN A SENSE, AdamTaliaferro died on the 17-yard line at Ohio State on that Saturday afternoon in2000. His figurative, and almost literal, demise occurred when he attempted ahelmet-first tackle of Buckeyes running back Jerry Westbrooks. Taliaferro, thena freshman defensive back at Penn State, was left with a shattered fifthcervical vertebra, a bruised spine and no feeling in his arms or legs. His lifehad been defined by football, but by the time night fell and he had discoveredhe'd never play football, and probably never walk, again, Taliaferro says,"I was a completely different person."
Eight autumns intohis second life, Taliaferro, 26, is not only walking—he took his first stepsthree months after the accident and returned to classes in May 2001—he's alsoin his third week as an associate at the Philadelphia law firm MontgomeryMcCracken. He graduated from the Rutgers School of Law--Camden in May and hopesto become a sports agent. "If you saw me, you probably wouldn't know I hadthe injury," he says, "but my right side's weaker than my left, and ifI try to run, it feels like my legs weigh 100 pounds. I'm working on gettingstronger each day. I'll do that the rest of my life."
BRAD C. BOWER/AP (UPDATE)
EARLY RETURN Taliaferro was back on campus by 2001.