Ole Miss QB Matt Corral Carted Off During Sugar Bowl with Apparent Leg Injury

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 2, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 01: Matt Corral #2 of the Mississippi Rebels warms up prior to the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Baylor Bears at Caesars Superdome on January 01, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was carted off the field after appearing to suffer a right leg injury during his team's Sugar Bowl matchup against Baylor on Saturday.

Corral's leg was rolled up on as he was sacked with the game scoreless in the first quarter and Ole Miss facing a 3rd-and-20 from the Baylor 26-yard line.

Trainers helped Corral to the sideline before he was transported off the field, and backup Luke Altmyer took over.

It was later reported on the ESPN broadcast that Corral was "doubtful" to return to the game after undergoing X-rays. He was later seen returning to the OIe Miss sideline on crutches with what appeared to be a right ankle/lower leg injury.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Matt Corral returned to the field on crutches in what is likely his last game for Ole Miss.<br><br>He injured his leg in the 1st quarter of the Sugar Bowl after a defender landed on him. <a href="https://t.co/6Nd88GA2Ci">pic.twitter.com/6Nd88GA2Ci</a>

Corral, who announced his intentions to leave school and enter the NFL draft last November, entered Saturday completing 67.5 percent of his passes for 57 touchdowns (22 interceptions), 8,271 passing yards and 9.1 yards per attempt for his career. He's also rushed for 1,321 yards and 18 scores.

The latest consensus big board, per the NFL Mock Draft Database, places Corral 14th overall among class of 2022 draft prospects and first among quarterbacks.

Numerous first-round draft prospects announced their intentions to skip their team's bowl games to prepare for the draft, such as Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and Ohio State's Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Corral was an exception and explained his decision to reporters in December.

"I mean, it was just my teammates ... I never questioned it ... If I was them (Ole Miss teammates), in their shoes and they had a quarterback in the same position ... I just couldn’t live with what they would think of me, like just leaving and just being like ‘alright that was the last game' and nobody knowing that was the last game."

"The only reason why I say this is because no one really understands how close we really are. It just would’ve been the wrong thing to do, just not playing and just holding out on them."

Many voices in the sports media landscape have made their opinions clear one way or another about draft prospects who either choose to play or skip their teams' bowl games before getting ready for the pros as the practice becomes more commonplace.

That only got louder after Corral's injury, although the extent and severity of his ailment is unknown.

Ultimately, two of the most prudent, relevant opinions came via ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. and NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe:

Mike Golic Jr @mikegolicjr

I want to make it abundantly clear: this is in no way a shot at Greg and Tess at all. I don’t think this is what they’ve done in the way they’ve presented things.

Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe

Man hate Matt Corral being carted off. Hope he’s OK long-term.<br><br>Another example why players have every right to do what’s best for them in terms of bowl games/opt outs.

It's easy to understand why a player who wants to protect himself for his future NFL career decides to skip a bowl game, with former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith's torn ACL and MCL against Ohio State in the 2015 Fiesta Bowl coming to mind.

It's also easy to see why some players want to stay with their teammates and finish what they started.

Neither path is necessarily wrong, and ultimately, any criticism of what a college athlete feels is best either way seems shortsighted.

Most importantly, the hope is Corral's injury isn't serious and that it has zero impact on his future NFL draft stock.