Former Gophers offensive tackle Nick Connelly, who retired from football earlier this season, took to Twitter on Monday morning to explain why.
It was concussions.
Here is Connelly’s full statement that he posted on Twitter:
“Football has been one of the biggest aspects of my life from when I was a little kid, but it has come to an end. This was my last season playing at the University of Minnesota. I suffered my 5th concussion during the Purdue game, and after talking to people who have been through similar situations, close family, mentors of mine, and doctors, about 4 weeks ago I became medically retired from football. I want to thank everybody who has helped me get this far in football and in life. Thank you to all the coaches growing up who invested their time in me. Thank you to Coach [Jerry] Kill for originally giving me the chance to play football here at the University of Minnesota, and thank you to all the coaches I have had since for investing their time in me to make me the best football player and man I could be. I have enjoyed my time playing here at Minnesota, it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I love my team and all the people I have gotten to know through football. I still will be on campus and attending the University of Minnesota, while finishing my degree in the sociology of law, criminology and deviance.’’
Connelly, who was a third-year sophomore, started the first five games of the season. The former Red Wing High School standout was injured during an extra-point attempt at Purdue on Oct. 7, was assisted off the field and walked slowly to the locker room. He didn’t play again.
The 6-7, 300-pounder played mostly on special teams as a freshman but won the right tackle job this year.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck addressed Connelly’s situation during his Oct. 31 news conference.
“He’s had some injuries, and he felt it was probably in his best interest to not play football anymore, focus on some other things that are really important in his life,’’ Fleck said. “… But I care deeply about Nick, and I want what's best for him. And that's what we talked about. We had talked about this for a long time, and then it came one day, he said, ‘I think I'm ready to do this.’ I said, ‘Listen, I support you 100 percent. We're going to do everything we can for you here and continue to get you through school and get your degree and do those type of things and have you around here to help in some areas.’ But he's going to be missed. That's for sure. Because he's a really good player.’’
BTN honors Olson
The Big Ten Network announced its all-freshman team, and Gophers center/guard Conner Olson was the lone Minnesota player on the list. Olson, a redshirt freshman, started all 12 games this season, six at right guard and six at center in place of the injured Jared Weyler.
Nebraska’s JD Spielman, a redshirt freshman from Eden Prairie, also was named to the team. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, the nation’s third-leading rusher with 1,806 yards, was named offensive freshman of the year. Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher was named defensive freshman of the year.
Gophers receiving honorable mention were safety Ken Handy-Holly, wide receiver Phillip Howard, offensive tackle Sam Schlueter, cornerback Kiondre Thomas and defensive end Nate Umlor.