Journey Brown entered the 2020 college football season as one of the top returning running backs in the country, but his season came to an abrupt halt when an undisclosed medical condition sidelined him for the year.
Brown probably thought that would be the worst news he heard this season. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Penn State head coach James Franklin announced on Wednesday that Brown was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and he’ll never be able to play football again.
Journey Brown was on his way to the NFL
Journey Brown wasn’t much of a factor for the Penn State offense when he arrived on campus as a freshman. The running back carried the ball only eight times for 44 yards and one touchdown in 2018.
But after Miles Sanders left school to enter the NFL draft, Brown vaulted up the depth chart, and he made the most of it in year two. In his first year as the starter, Brown recorded 890 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged an incredible 6.9 yards per carry during the 2019 season.
Brown capped off his breakout campaign with 202 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Memphis in the 2019 Cotton Bowl. He showed game-breaking speed and unique power for a player of his size on the national stage, and his draft stock started to soar in the coming weeks.
Dan Brugler of The Athletic ranked Brown as the No. 1 running back prospect for the 2021 NFL draft back in July. He was destined to be a top-round pick next year, but those plans hit an unexpected snag.
Brown was sidelined for the year with an undisclosed medical condition
A few weeks before the start of the 2020 college football season, Penn State announced Brown would miss all or most of the year with an undisclosed medical condition. The team wasn’t specific about his diagnosis at the time, but it seemed troublesome.
Brown was optimistic about the news, though. He posted a video on Twitter shortly after the announcement, saying he felt “better than ever.” “I cannot wait to get back on the field,” Brown continued.
Journey Brown’s football career is over
With no updates about his health three games into the 2020 season, Brown’s chances of playing this year seemed slim. It turns out that was the least of his worries.
On Wednesday afternoon, Penn State head coach James Franklin announced Brown was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that thickens the heart muscles and makes it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Brown’s football career is officially over.
Brown released a statement about his diagnosis and his future via Twitter on Wednesday.
I finally had the opportunity to showcase what I was born to do and, hopefully, set myself up to achieve my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, the dream will never be realized as I have been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which will force me to medically retire from the game of football. The pain of not being able to play the game I love anymore hurts and I can’t explain how I am feeling right now.Journey Brown
The news is a crushing blow for Brown, who had dreams of playing in the NFL for most of his life. He was on his way to achieving that dream in a few short months.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference