Former Maryland running back Lorenzo Harrison, who announced Jan. 20 that he was stepping away from football, says his decision to walk away from the game was set in motion by his most recent knee injury and impending fatherhood.
Harrison, 22, exploded onto the scene as a freshman at Maryland, running for 633 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games, but struggled with injuries the past two seasons. Harrison suffered a torn meniscus during practice in September 2018, which ended his season. He then suffered a torn MCL and partially torn ACL against Penn State in September 2019, which ultimately ended his career.
“Initially, when I got my MRI back from this injury, they told me it was a bad injury, but I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying because I was upset about getting injured in the first place,” Harrison said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 21. “Probably a couple days before surgery, I really talked to my surgeon and he told me what was what and how bad of an injury it was. From there, it’s always been in the back of my head if I wanted to continue to play.”
Harrison said he dealt with “a lot of hamstring, quad pulls” during his time at Maryland but hadn’t been dealt a significant injury at Maryland until 2018. He spoke to his parents, Lorenzo and Kimberly, about what to do following knee surgery in 2019; he especially leaned on his father during the process. His new daughter played a role, too.
“I’d like to be able to run around with her and things like that, so that played a lot into my decision,” Harrison said. “I just wanted to do what’s best for my future.”
That future, as it turns out, doesn’t include playing football — something he’s done since he was 4 years old.
“That’s the only thing I’ve known my whole life, really,” Harrison said. “It had nothing to do with the game. It was just an unfortunate series of events that have taken place over the last couple of years and I just had to make a decision.”
As a freshman, the 5-foot-7, 189-pound Harrison formed a dynamic duo with current Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson. The Terps averaged 199.5 yards per game on the ground that year, a big reason why they made the Quick Lane Bowl in 2016. That was the last time the program made a postseason bowl.
However, Harrison wasn’t around for the bowl game because he was suspended for the team’s final four games. Harrison and receiver DJ Turner were charged by university police with three counts each of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in connection to on-campus BB gun incidents. The charges were eventually dropped. Prior to the suspension and charges, Harrison was well on his way to breaking LaMont Jordan’s freshman rushing record at Maryland (689 yards).
Harrison had another productive year as a sophomore in 2017 — 622 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games — but faded into the background in 2018 and 2019, combining for 17 carries and 154 yards during those two years. The former star battled injuries and fell behind others on the depth chart, namely Anthony McFarland Jr. and Javon Leake, both of whom declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Particularly as a freshman, Harrison showed what made him a highly-sought-after recruit out of DeMatha — a combination of shiftiness, explosiveness and big-play ability.
What will Harrison miss the most about playing football?
“What I’d say I’ll miss most is definitely being around my teammates, going to practice. I’ll miss the games, I’ll miss making big plays,” Harrison said. “What I’ll remember the most is just making a big play and hearing the crowd roar. That’s something I’ll always cherish. I’ll probably never get over that feeling.”
Harrison said he’s pursuing his Master’s degree in supply-chain management at the Robert H. School of Business at Maryland. He has no immediate plans to get back into football in a new role, and he said as much to head coach Michael Locksley.
“I talked to Coach Locks, and I basically told him that I kind of want to be away from the game right now,” Harrison said. “I think it’s best for me to be away. I don’t know if I could deal with being around and not actually play. For right now, I won’t actually be doing anything athletic-related, like coaching or things of that nature.”
For more from Harrison, listen to the full interview here:
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