Gamecocks tight end Pollard walking away from football

Gamecocks tight end Pollard walking away from football
South Carolina tight end Kiel Pollard (87) runs with the ball against Missouri during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (Source: Sean Rayford)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (TheBigSpur.com) - South Carolina senior tight end Kiel Pollard announced on Friday afternoon he has decided to walk away playing football.

After Monday’s preseason scrimmage head coach Will Muschamp announced Pollard was dealing with a neck stinger and further testing would follow. Pollard revealed on Friday he suffered a broken neck that would keep him out 4-6 weeks.

TheBigSpur has learned Pollard was forced to give up football after an undisclosed medical discovery when he was being treated for a broken vertebrae in his neck. The severity of the situation made him decide to completely walk away from playing.

"Kiel suffered a small fracture in his neck last week, which was to have sidelined him for 4-6 weeks," said head coach Will Muschamp said in a statement from the school. "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," continued Coach Muschamp. "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."

Below is the statement Pollard released on his Instagram account:

"Ever since I was 3 years old, my life has involved football. 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 2 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 has played in 38 games over the last three seasons with 17 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He was in line to be the top receiving tight end in the Gamecocks offense. Had it not been for the undisclosed medical condition, Pollard could have returned to the Gamecocks football team by the beginning of October. He also would have qualified for a redshirt season and could have been a fifth-year senior in 2020. With him deciding hang it up, the Gamecocks tight end room moves on with fifth-year junior Kyle Markway, William and Mary transfer Nick Muse, junior Evan Hinson, sophomore Will Register and freshmen Keshawn Toney and Traevon Kenion. Hinson will be out for the foreseeable future as he undergoes an operation on an irregular heartbeat and Muse is still awaiting word from the NCAA as he has filed a waiver for immediate eligibility.

The Gamecocks are 12 practices in to their 23-practice preseason camp. They begin their season on Aug. 31 in Charlotte against North Carolina in the Belk College Kickoff. It will be a 3:30 p.m. kick on ESPN.

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