The seven were absent from Northwestern’s official 2019 roster, passed out at media day.
Seven Northwestern careers have come to a close.
Evanston, IL — Everything seems to be looking up for the Wildcats as of late.
They’ll head into the season ranked for the first time in six years. Their quarterback is a five-star recruit who transferred in from the nation’s best college football program. Their 2020 recruiting class is ranked as the 25th best in the country. The list goes on.
But for all the positives Pat Fitzgerald could talk about at the podium on Wednesday for Northwestern’s football media day, he was forced to address the absence of several players on the official 2019 roster. As acknowledged by Fitzgerald, several of those absences are due to medical retirement, a route that a multitude of Wildcats have had to opt for within the past year.
The most recent bunch to hang up their cleats due to injury include superback Eric Eshoo and linebacker Jango Glackin, both juniors, as well as sophomore superback Brian Kaiser. Each of the three was on scholarship.
Eshoo, a local product from nearby Loyola Academy in Wilmette, saw the field in eight games last year, predominantly on special teams.
Glackin saw action in two early-season games in 2017 before sustaining an injury that kept him off the field in 2018 and ultimately, led to his retirement.
Both Eshoo and Glackin are academic seniors and will graduate with the class of 2020.
Kaiser, a fellow local kid from nearby New Trier high school in Winnetka, never appeared for the Wildcats in his first-year season last year.
In addition to the trio of medical retirees, Fitzgerald confirmed that another four simply walked away on their own terms, choosing to voluntarily put an end their football careers.
Defensive back Alonzo Mayo elected to forgo his fifth year of NCAA eligibility and move on from Northwestern football. Mayo would have been the elder statesman in a young, but competitive position group. Said Fitzgerald: “He’s had a great career and he’s on to the real world, not the one on MTV.”
Senior special teamer Steven Reese is also, “On to the real world,” after not seeing the field for two seasons, due in large part to injury. Reese’s enduring legacy at Northwestern may be when he dropped some hot dance moves at the end of a 2015 opening weekend upset win over Stanford.
Additionally, walk-on wide receivers Jackson Tirmonia and Mason Suitt both chose to step away and end their careers as Wildcats.
It would certainly be nice to have the option to end your career on your own terms rather than be forced to retire due to injury. Unfortunately, as of late, a slew of Wildcats haven’t been afforded that option.
In addition to the three already mentioned, four other players had announced their medical retirements prior to media day.
Running back Jeremy Larkin kicked off the wave in late September of last year, after he was forced to retire just three games into the 2018 season after learning he had cervical stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spine and put an immediate end to a promising career.
In February, superback Cameron Green announced his retirement, citing concussions and family history with head injuries. Green, who had one more year of eligibility remaining, is also on to the real world.
Defensive back Austin Hiller retired prior to spring ball this season, pointing to chronic pain in his lower legs. He is set to be an academic junior.
Wildcat Report’s Louis Vaccher revealed last month that junior outside Linebacker Chee Anyanwu retired for health reasons. Anyanwu never saw any game action in his two years at Northwestern and was due to be a redshirt sophomore this season.
In April, I asked Fitzgerald about recent medical retirements. He was pretty candid in his response:
“It’s heartbreaking to me any time a young man can no longer play our game medically. For all of our guys that have gone down that road, I hope that we have given them as much as they’ve given the program. It’s a win-win; they get their degree, they get all of the resources and opportunities we have as a program. My hope is that they are able to transition, and I think that’s a really hard thing when you give up the game you love… But if the worst thing that happens to them is that they end up being a Northwestern graduate, I think they’re going to be fine. It doesn’t make it easier, but my heart breaks for all of those guys.”
Northwestern opens their 2019 season on the road against No. 23 Stanford on Aug. 31.