A Career Cut Short

Game day began just the same as it usually does for Blake Lawrence. Lawrence ran out of the tunnel onto the Memorial Stadium turf with his Cornhusker teammates, but this time, things were different.

"Everyone was running out of the tunnel, my friends and my family running out the tunnel, and I had to take a sharp left and not finish that route," said Lawrence. 

The junior did not run out on to the field in the usual helmet and pads, but rather a coach's hat and khaki pants.  Last week during practice, Lawrence suffered another concussion, his fourth in the past 18 months.  Blake was involved in a routine tackling when he immediately knew what happened.  He knew it was another concussion.  Still, Lawrence returned to drills and took a few more hits, but after practice, Blake knew he couldn't avoid the potentially serious problem. 

"When it happened, I had to tell the trainers, and that was probably the hardest part was letting them know that yes, I have had another concussion, and that was probably going to be my last play in college football."

Lawrence suffered his third concussion during spring practice, and knew he was facing potential harm by continuing his career.  Still, Blake battled back and continued playing football.

"The doctors wanted me to know that I was taking a risk to come back, even after my third one, but that's a risk that I was willing to take for this team and still something that I'm proud of that I was able to come back and work through this."

After suffering the concussion, Coach Bo Pelini offered Blake an opportunity to stay with the program.  Lawrence will now serve as a student coach and mentor for the team.  While his time on the field as a player is over, Blake is thankful for the opportunity to still be a Cornhusker.

"It means a lot to be around the team still.  This is my family.  This is who, when I came to Lincoln, I knew that this is something that I'd put my heart into and my heart is still with the football team.  With everything we do as a group, I'm glad to still be a part of it and be around the guys."

Playing football has been a part of Blake's life since he was a child.  Lawrence's father, a former punter in college, had Blake playing football at an early age.  If Blake wasn't playing football, he was watching his dad's football.

"I think I was either four or five years old playing flag football.  My dad was a football player in college, and so we started throwing the ball around the apartment.  As soon as we could get on a flag football team, we did.  We started playing tackle football when I was in second grade.  It's been the biggest most continuous part of my life, so it's good to still be a part of it.  This is all I've ever known."

Now that Blake Lawrence's football playing days are over, it's time to focus on coaching.  After his first day of coaching during practice, Blake said his teammates are starting to adjust to him ordering them around, but he is still getting used to not playing football anymore. 

"It was different (Saturday).  I've been injured before in games and knowing that Monday at practice, I'd be out there.  Saturday was different.  I knew that I'd have no opportunity to play again."

Saturday was different for Blake Lawrence.  He ran out of the tunnel with his teammates, but rather than preparing to play, Lawrence stood on the sidelines wearing a hat and khaki pants.

"I took a moment to stand there and recognize how beautiful this place is, and how the fans really treat us and love us.  I feel love and I the feel support from Husker nation in this situation."

The following is the statement Lawrence released after deciding to step away from the game:

"After suffering my fourth concussion in the past 18 months, I have decided to step away from playing the game of football. After meeting with my family, the athletic trainers, Dr. Albers, and the coaching staff, we determined that I would risk complications later in life if I were to continue playing football. Football has been an integral part of my life since my earliest years, and has helped propel me to great heights. Playing football at the University of Nebraska has been one of my greatest accomplishments, and I will always be proud to say I am a Cornhusker. Coach Pelini has given me the opportunity to continue my dedication to Nebraska football in a different role, acting as a coach and a mentor on the team. I am thankful for this new position, as I will be able to continue to be around the game I love most, and build on the strong relationships I have developed with my teammates.

Playing football for Nebraska has provided me with amazing memories that I will never forget. I have also been able to actively represent Nebraska in the Lincoln community. These are some of my most enjoyable moments as a Husker. I have been able to share my experiences with the greatest fans in college football. My status as a Cornhusker has given me the ability to make an impact in others' lives, from signing autographs for future Huskers, or talking with the elderly about the experience of Nebraska football, I have been truly humbled by the love Nebraskans have for this sport.

I will continue my role as a student-athlete leader at the University, and will represent Nebraska in all of my future endeavors. I am blessed to have been able to play for the greatest football team in college history. Thank you to all who made it possible, and thank you for your constant support through this process."

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