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Badger WR coach talks after spinal injury

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin receivers coach Henry Mason says he was as close to paralyzed as anyone could be. But Mason, 51, doesn't like thinking about the night in June when he slipped and fell in his own home, leaving him with a severe spinal co...

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin receivers coach Henry Mason says he was as close to paralyzed as anyone could be.

But Mason, 51, doesn't like thinking about the night in June when he slipped and fell in his own home, leaving him with a severe spinal cord injury.

''I knew I was falling. I hit a nightstand. The next thing I knew I was in intensive care. It wasn't a pretty thing but thank goodness I survived it,'' Mason said this week in his first interviews since the injury.

Mason declined previous requests because he wanted to walk into an interview room rather than depend on a wheelchair or walker. He must still use power wheelchairs and a walker at home at times and on trips to the hospital.

''In the world of spinal cord injuries, I would say I'm a little bit ahead of schedule right now,'' he said. ''I've been able to have some pretty good gains from where I've started.''

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Mason's rehabilitation sessions are three to four times a week at the hospital and every day at home.

''It's about a five- to six-hour program a day to get it done. I never worked out that much in my life,'' joked Mason, who calls it his ''redshirt'' coaching year, tabbing the term used when a player sits for a season and retains his eligibility.

Mason, named associate head coach earlier this year, has been with the Badgers since 1995. He hopes he'll be ready to return to work full time in February and be ready for spring practice in late March.

After he was injured, coach Bret Bielema hired DelVaughn Alexander on a six-month contract.

Mason, who credits his wife Debbie with helping him work toward a full recovery, said he watches home games from his office, but he's intentionally remained in the background this year.

''My goal right now is to be able to get out of bed tomorrow and go in there and have the therapist beat on me for five hours and be able to survive it,'' Mason said. ''I'm just hoping at the end of the road I'll be back out there.''

Wisconsin hosts non-conference opponent Northern Illinois at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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