Maryland running back Lorenzo Harrison announces he is medically retiring from football

Maryland football running back Lorenzo Harrison during the Terps' 79-0 win over Howard in their season-opener on Aug. 31, 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Maryland football running back Lorenzo Harrison announced in a tweet Monday he is medically retiring after suffering a severe knee injury in the Terps’ loss to Penn State in September.

“I believe it is in my best interest to convert my focus from ball to the next great thing God has in store for me,” Harrison wrote in a note attached to the tweet. “I want to thank the University of Maryland for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams as a football player and continue to receive my education.”

Harrison, who just finished his redshirt junior season and had one year of eligibility remaining, battled injuries the past two years. The Hillcrest Heights native dealt with a hamstring injury in the first month of the 2018 campaign before suffering a season-ending knee injury in practice that held him out of the team’s final 10 games. 

After battling back to return for the 2019 season, Harrison appeared in Maryland’s season-opener against Howard and in the primetime loss to the Nittany Lions — which proved to be the final game of his football career. 

The injury occurred on a reverse that netted a 7-yard gain before a Penn State defender dragged him to the turf. Four days later, coach Mike Locksley announced that Harrison suffered a torn MCL and partially torn ACL. 

[Read more: Running back was Maryland football’s deepest position, but injuries have thinned it]

Harrison’s abrupt ending to his career comes three years after the former three-star DeMatha High School product closed in on LaMont Jordan’s freshman rushing record. In his first season, Harrison recorded 633 yards rushing with five touchdowns and set a new freshman record with 7.2 yards per rush.

But just as the freshman running record seemed imminent, needing only 57 yards in the final three games to match Jordan’s mark, the team suspended Harrison for his alleged involvement in a BB gun incident on campus. 

He and wide receiver DJ Turner were charged with three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangerment. Those charges were dropped two months later.

When he returned to the field in 2017, Harrison played a similar role in complementing running back Ty Johnson. As a sophomore, Harrison rushed for 622 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.

[Read more: An injury-filled 2018 could’ve discouraged Jake Funk. Instead, it made him stronger.]

Then, the Terps’ backfield became loaded with playmakers. Harrison’s high school teammate Anthony McFarland joined the fray as a redshirt freshman, and Javon Leake began to carve out a role. Tayon Fleet-Davis and Jake Funk also earned playing time. 

The logjam, coupled with Harrison’s injuries, limited him to just 17 rushing attempts for 154 yards over the past two seasons. 

With Harrison’s departure, that once-loaded backfield is suddenly a major question mark. McFarland and Leake both opted to forgo eligibility and declare early for the 2020 NFL Draft, Funk is recovering from an ACL tear — his second in as many years — and Fleet-Davis was charged with driving while impaired in November.

Locksley has two running backs officially slated to join the team next year with incoming freshmen Isaiah Jacobs and Peny Boone. Jacobs is the younger brother of former Alabama star and now-Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who Locksley coached in college.

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