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Jeremy Larkin medically retires from football

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This is devastating all around.

NCAA Football: Akron at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin has medically retired from football after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis, the program announced Monday. The program said the condition is not life threatening.

“Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won’t be on that field again, given I’ve played this game since I was five years old” Larkin said in the program press release. “I’m extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first. I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline.”

Said head coach Pat Fitzgerald: “This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete. But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him. The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can’t wait to see the impact he makes in our world.”

Larkin had accounted for 473 total yards and five touchdowns in three games as the starting running back this season. He totaled 618 yards from scrimmage last season as a redshirt freshman.

This news is crushing for Northwestern, especially on the heels of two disappointing losses to Duke and Akron. Larkin had filled in admirably for program legend Justin Jackson, and appeared to be a rising star in the Big Ten. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say Larkin has been Northwestern’s best player this season.

According to princetonbrainandspine.com, cervical stenosis is “a form of spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area or upper part of the spine. This narrowing places pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves in the neck. It can be extremely painful. While some patients are born with this narrowing, most cases of cervical stenosis occur to patients over the age of 50 and are the result of aging and ‘wear and tear’ on the spine.

Many patients with stenosis of the C-Spine have a history of some kind of injury or trauma to the neck, however this trauma may have occurred many months or even years before the onset of stenosis symptoms.”

Retiring and preserving his health is clearly in Larkin’s best interest, but this is just brutal news all around.