South Carolina tight end forced to end football career after suffering neck injury


South Carolina senior tight end Kiel Pollard announced Friday that he is giving up football following a neck injury suffered this week in practice. According to 247Sports, Pollard initially suffered a neck stinger that would have caused him to be out of action for 4-6 weeks. But an undisclosed medical issue was discovered while Pollard was receiving treatment for the injury which forced him to retire from the sport.

Pollard released a statement on his Instagram account on Friday.

"Ever since I was three years old, my life has involved football," he wrote. "Last week I did something that every football player knows not to do, I ducked my head while blocking. As I waited on the exam table I thought everything was straight. To my surprise, after the MRI was completed and what felt like the longest two hours of my life, I was informed that I would be out for 4-6 weeks with a broken neck. I was perfectly fine with that. I felt no pain and my body was tired so I felt that rest was in order. This week that changed when I found out that last Tuesday would be my last time playing football. Not that I'm not able, but that it's not safe for me to do so. I have loved football and always will! It was my desire to rock Willy B Stadium this year and then play in the NFL but I am aware that God has greater plans for my life! I KNOW THAT I AM MORE THAN FOOTBALL!!! Please don't feel sorry for me because football has been good to me. Football has provided me with a great education in which I will be graduating in December this year! I am smart enough to know God doesn't give anyone a gift that he doesn't plan on using! So with that being said one chapter ends and another begins! 87 out."

Pollard was slated to be the No. 1 tight end for coach Will Muschamp's Gamecocks, according to the post-spring depth chart. He finished fourth on the Gamecocks with 181 yards and two touchdowns catches last season. In 38 career games, Pollard caught 17 passes for 203 yards in three seasons.

"Kiel suffered a small fracture in his neck last week, which was to have sidelined him for 4-6 weeks," coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. "However, during an MRI, the doctors discovered a cyst on his spinal cord, which appears to have been there since he was a child. The severity of the situation and the possible long-term consequences from that medical condition forced him to give up his playing career.

"Our hearts go out to Kiel and family. He is a great representative of our program and our University. He is on schedule to graduate in December and will not doubt have a successful career in the coaching profession."

The news comes at a bad time for the Gamecocks offense. Evan Hinson gave up basketball to focus on football this spring, but the junior will be out for 6-8 weeks after it was discovered he had an irregular heartbeat, according to The State.

South Carolina will open the 2019 season vs. North Carolina on Aug. 31 in Charlotte at 3:30 p.m. ET.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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