(KTLA-TV)

(KTLA-TV)

LOS ANGELES -- USC running back Stafon Johnson is doing something many thought he would never do again after a serious weightlifting accident nearly two months ago -- he's speaking.

Johnson, whose neck was crushed in the Sept. 28 accident, said seven words to the media before the Trojans' game against Stanford on Saturday.

In a whisper, Johnson repeated the last words spoken to him by his late grandfather: "God has a plan. Run,Stafon, run."

Dr. Ryan Osborne said the tracheostomy tube has been removed from the athlete's throat, and he no longer has a feeding tube in his stomach.

Johnson also has regained the ability to swallow and eat solid food -- a remarkable achievement after several operations on his neck.

Doctors say Johnson's progress can be called "miraculous."

"No physician can tell a patient what his chances are for recovery. He never put limitations on himself, and that's why he's making great strides," said throat specialist, Dr. Jason Hamilton.

Johnson has had three more operations since leaving Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Oct. 14.

Doctors have said his ability to play football again will largely depend on his own desire.

They also say he could be cleared to work out again in the near future.

When asked if he intended to play for USC next season, Johnson responded with a shrug.

The Dorsey High graduate was bench-pressing in the Heritage Hall weight room Sept. 28 when the bar slipped from his right hand and fell onto his throat. His right vocal cord was torn away from its mooring and his larynx was crushed.

He was spitting up blood and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, according to the USC website.

Doctors credited Johnson's physical condition for helping him survive the accident.

"His neck was so solid and so muscular, that actually helped maintain his airway, and the discipline that one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do. He took instruction very well," said Dr. Gordon Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, where the athlete was first treated before being transferred to Cedars-Sinai.

Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said an accident like Johnson's is rare.

"I've seen players have the bar slip and fall onto their chest, but never in my 25 years of coaching have I heard of someone dropping a bar on their throat," the coach said.

Carlisle, who was within feet of Johnson when the accident occurred, said an assistant strength and conditioning coach was acting as a "spotter" for the player.

"We're fortunate he was being spotted."

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound player is the Trojans' second-leading rusher and goal-line specialist.

He's rushed 32 times for 157 yards this year and leads the team with five touchdowns.

He entered the season with 1,395 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

USC head coach Pete Carroll has said there's a chance Johnson could qualify for a medical redshirt to earn a sixth year with the Trojans, though he also might be interested in heading to the NFL.

---

On the Web: http://www.usctrojans.com/blog/