Vanderbilt punt returner Jonathan Krause sat on the field pondering what everyone in Vanderbilt Stadium was thinking.
“The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Really? I was nowhere near the ball,’” Krause said after practice on Wednesday. “It is what is. It happens. It is football, you know?”
Krause was referring to the fact that he was on the receiving end of a devastating helmet-to-helmet blow from Arkansas’ Marquel Wade in the third quarter of Vanderbilt’s 31-28 loss on Saturday.
Wade was suspended by the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday for one game and will miss the No. 8 Razorbacks’ bout with No. 10 South Carolina on Saturday. Krause said he received apologies from both Wade and his mother and was ready to move on for Vanderbilt’s road game at 11:21 a.m. Saturday at Florida.
Krause never caught the punt as the ball bounced several feet away from where he was standing. He stayed on the field for several minutes, but returned to the game and later fielded another punt.
“The ball was short so I went to go run up to catch the ball. That’s when I saw him at the last minute,” Krause said. “I remember the whole thing. There was no concussion or anything. It was just a hard hit. I’m feeling a lot better.”
Wade, who celebrated after the hit, was immediately ejected and had to be hurried off the sideline and into the locker room by an assistant coach. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive determined that Wade flagrantly interfered with Krause’s chances of catching the punt and that Wade led with the crown of his helmet.
“I thought the officials handled it the way they were supposed to handle it during the game,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said after practice on Wednesday. “I thought the SEC did what they felt like was appropriate this week. By no means did I feel like there was anybody trying to hurt anybody out on the field. A mistake was made and we’ve moved on.”
On Monday, Wade apologized for the hit, saying “I was wrong. I thought he had the ball.”
Krause, a sophomore, leads the team in punt returns with 12 for 48 yards. He is also tops on the team with 21 receptions for 149 yards.