Heart conditions in young athletes are a real threat. Gone undiagnosed, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy could have taken Randy Russell’s life—on the field, or off.

Being proactive when it comes to the health and safety of student athletes is a priority for many schools, but more need to step up and get their students tested for cardiovascular conditions. Young lives depend on it.

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Florida early enrollee Randy Russell has Gators career end before it begins due to heart condition

Florida announced Thursday that early enrollee Randy Russell will be prohibited from playing for the Gators due to a health matter.
Ryan Young/SEC Country

Ryan Young

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Randy Russell had barely settled in at Florida as a promising safety and early enrollee in the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class when news came that he won’t get to play a game for the school. Florida announced Thursday that Russell’s physical revealed an “abnormality” in his cardiac workup that will prohibit him from being cleared to play football for the Gators.

Russell wrote in a post on Twitter that he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.

“As tragic as this is for Randy and his family to hear this news, this discovery is life-saving for him,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said in a statement. “We will be fully supportive in any way we can for Randy and his family. He will continue to be a part of the Gator football family and we will assist him in his academic pursuits at the University of Florida.”

It’s not clear if that means Russell’s scholarship will be honored.

He shared his thoughts about the life-altering news Thursday on Twitter.

“In life, God will throw things at you that don’t quite make sense. At that moment, they may seem unbelievable and even unbearable. It is important to know that everything happens for a reason,” he wrote. “It is important to use those roadblocks to motivate you and not discourage you. A week ago, I began my journey as a student athlete at the University of Florida. Today, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A heart condition that prevents me from continuing with the hopes of playing college football and becoming a professional football player.

“It is extremely hard to believe that after going through the process of early graduation, and consistently and physically preparing myself for the next level, today, that all comes to an end. This is the last thing I expected to hear and I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.”


James Robinson, a highly-touted wide receiver in the Gators’ 2017 recruiting class, also saw his football career end before he played in a game at Florida due to a heart condition.

Robinson tweeted his support for Russell after the news broke.

Russell, from Opa-Locka, Fla., was rated a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports composite and was initially recruited by the previous coaching staff. Listed at 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, he told SEC Country last month that new Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham told him he was undersized for the type of safety the coach prefers, but he wanted him anyway because of the way he played the game.

Russell was one of eight early enrollees for the Gators.

“To everyone reading this, I encourage you to appreciate the finer things in life,” Russell said in his Twitter post. “Continue to walk by faith and not by sight. Just when you feel like things can’t get any [worse], remember that someone is experience [worse]. Remain grateful and aware of the possibility that everything you’ve been blessed with can be taken away from you faster than it was given to you.

“Although it may seem as if things have come to an end, I know that God has greatness in store for me.”

Original Article: https://www.seccountry.com/florida/florida-early-enrollee-randy-russell-gators-career-end-begins-due-health-condition

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