College football running back forced to retire over neck condition

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin will be forced to retire from football due to an ongoing neck condition, the school announced Monday.

Larkin, who was the team’s leading rusher, was diagnosed with cervical stenosis and it will prevent him from playing football going forward. Cervical stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“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 a statement posted on the Wildcats’ website.

“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.”

The sophomore played in last week’s game against Akron and ran for 82 yards. He first mentioned symptoms to team doctors prior to the game but test results were deemed inconclusive, according to the Chicago Tribune. More tests and consultation later determined Larkin needed to retire.

“Our medical team and Jeremy worked hand in hand and hopefully avoided anything down the road that, quite frankly, could have been catastrophic,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald added Larkin will remain on the Wildcats’ coaching staff as a student assistant coach.