Northwestern RB Larkin retires due to cervical stenosis

Northwestern Wildcats running back Jeremy Larkin (28) breaks the tackle of Akron Zips linebacker John Lako (40) at Ryan Field on Sept. 15.Photo Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

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Northwestern sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin is retiring from football after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis, the team announced.

Larkin saw three specialists last week to confirm the diagnosis. Cervical stenosis is a narrowing in the upper part of the spine.

“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 5 years old,” Larkin said in a statement.

“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.”

Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said that Larkin’s decision is “the best possible outcome” given what could have “catastrophic” results had he continued to play.

“This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete,” Fitzgerald said. “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.

“Obviously a challenging day for Jeremy Larkin the player, but a blessing for Jeremy Larkin the young man,” Fitzgerald said.

Larkin rushed for 346 yards and added another 127 on 19 receptions. He had five touchdowns for Northwestern, which opens Big Ten play when it hosts Michigan on Saturday.

John Moten IV and Isaiah Bowser will look to pick up the rushing attack for the Wildcats.