Injuries force two to retire
Ryan Buchholz did his best for as long as he could to play through extensive pain from back injuries, but the Penn State defensive end announced Wednesday that he has decided to retire from football.
Buchholz, a redshirt junior who would have been a starter this season, was one of two Nittany Lions to retire Wednesday for medical reasons. Freshman cornerback Jordan Miner also announced his decision to retire after getting diagnosed with a heart condition.
“With those two guys, they’ve been class acts in every aspect of our program,” coach James Franklin said Wednesday night. “Both had tremendous futures in front of them and still have tremendous futures in front of then. It’s just going to be different now. I think they’re going to continue to be very involved in the program.”
Buchholz made six starts and appeared in 10 games last season, recording two sacks, 2 ¢ tackles for loss and three hurries. He appeared in 13 games in 2016.
Buchholz posted his decision to retire on Twitter, writing:
“For the past 13 years, football has been all I’ve known and done. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities, memories, and friends this sport has given me. Stemming from problems developed in high school, I’ve been through years of dealing with extreme pain. After multiple back surgeries and the inability to 100% at this level, it is time for me to retire. You only have one body and my health and future well-being is most important to me.
“Unfortunately, some things don’t last forever and I am just very thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me throughout my career. Lastly, I would like to thank Coach Franklin and the rest of the staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play at an amazing university like Penn State.”
Losing Buchholz will hurt, but Penn State has a lot of depth at the defensive end spot, which should lessen the impact some.
Miner was a four-star recruit out of Florida who chose PSU over a slew of big-name programs.
“From the day I committed to Penn State I always imagined of making huge plays in Beaver Stadium but unfortunately I was diagnosed with a heart problem that will have to put a hold on my football career,” Miner posted on Twitter.
“Everybody that knows me knows I work super hard to get in this position but God had other plans for me. But I would like to thank Coach Franklin and staff for honoring my scholarship and still allow me to stay with the team. It’s a blessing in disguise and would like all of you to stay in my life as I continue my new journey. We Are…”
Franklin discussed losing the two players in a post-practice video on gopsusports.com Wednesday.
“One of the things that’s challenging sometimes, and you kind of read it in both of their quotes, sometimes guys have long-term things that they’re dealing with — some of them coming with them from high school — and just never able to get over them,” the coach said. “It’s challenging. It’s challenging for them. It’s challenging for the parents. It’s challenging for us as a staff, managing the roster and depth and those types of things.
“But most importantly, I think it’s difficult — this is their dream. This is their ultimate dream. And our game, it’s going to come to an end at some point, and they’ve got to kind of shift their vision. They’ve all kind of have a vision or plan in their mind of how it’s going to go for them, and then it changes.”
The retirements, Franklin noted, were not a surprise, since the players had been dealing with their issues for some time.
“We just want to support those guys and their future endeavors,” Franklin said.
SUBHD: Will Bowen start?
Manny Bowen is back with the Lions after previously being kicked off the team, and Franklin was asked specifically if Bowen will start the season opener if he proves that he’s one of the three best linebackers.
“No. No he will not,” Franklin said. “I think that’s kind of already been covered by me and Brent (Pry).”
Franklin and Pry, the defensive coordinator, both recently said they didn’t know what Bowen’s role on the team would be this season. But since the Lions are in need of a middle linebacker, it’s a given that many people believe Bowen ultimately will fill that role.
Franklin, though, said he didn’t want to have a conversation about Bowen’s role because he had not yet addressed the matter with the team. He noted he doesn’t want the players to find out about coaches’ decisions by watching the news, as opposed to hearing things directly from the coaches.