Concussions loom dangerously over the heads of football players in today’s game. Since the days of Yale versus Princeton in the late 1800s, American football has become faster, more violent, and is becoming dangerous to a player’s mental well-being the longer they play. The NFL, NCAA, as well as organizations down to the youth level, are investing in technique, equipment and research to preserve America’s most popular sport.
Nowhere are concussions, and the onset of the degenerative brain disease CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), more apparent than with offensive and defensive lineman. Often overlooked for their success, and regularly crucified for their failures, lineman engage in collisions on every single play. The chances of lineman sustaining multiple concussions is far higher than other positions.
At the University of Texas, Mikey Grandy, one of college football’s top junior college transfers this offseason, is retiring after sustaining a concussion and missing all of the Longhorns’ spring practices.
Texas head coach Tom Herman told Austin, Texas radio station 104.9 The Horn that Grandy was medically disqualified and not cleared to play football for the Longhorns.
“The doctor said it’s not smart for (Grandy) to try to continue to play football,” Herman said. “He’s going to continue here at the University of Texas on scholarship, get his degree and we wish him the best.”
Grandy transferred into the Longhorns program after breaking out at the College of San Mateo last season. He originally signed a letter of intent to San Jose State coming out of powerhouse Palo Alto High School in California.
The sophomore was named the fourth best JUCO offensive tackle in the nation this offseason by 247Sports. He also had offers from UCLA and Arizona State.
Grandy enrolled at the University of Texas in February, and will be allowed to stay at the school on full scholarship.
What does Grandy’s loss mean for Tom Herman’s offensive line? It’s huge.
The Texas Longhorns went most of spring practice with eight healthy offensive lineman. Of the 17 remaining lineman on the roster, six of them are true freshman. Only five players are listed as returning letterman on the 2018 Texas football roster.
Senior guard Patrick Vahe, a 2017 All Big-12 Honorable Mention, has 31 starts in 34 career games at Texas. Sophomore tackle Derek Kerstetter could be a breakout player for the Longhorns after starting 10 games last season as a true freshman.
Tom Herman, entering his second season since coming to Texas from Houston, has his work cut out for him after a 7-6 season. Gobbling up a $5.2 million salary won’t last long if the Longhorns can’t make a push for a nine or 10-win season in 2018.
Having slim pickings on the offensive line, and losing a potential starter in lineman Mikey Grandy, doesn’t make Herman’s job any easier.