Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

Hot Reads: Darlington 'Trades Cleats for Army Boots'

January 31, 2018
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For a Tuesday in the offseason, it was sort of a news-filled day around Nebraska football. That’s a hit-or-miss designation. Make news in the offseason and it’s usually bad news, and there was some of that, but there was also a little good news. Let’s start there.

Senior wide receiver Zack Darlington is done with football. That’s not good news for Nebraska’s team, of course. Darlington, no matter how much playing time he saw, is the kind of player you want to keep around for the example he sets and the leadership he provides. But it is good news for Darlington, who is exchanging one dream for another:

Darlington was always one of the better player to talk to on the team. It didn’t matter what you got to talking about, Darlington would always have something interesting and thoughtful to say, whether it was about holding kicks or playing Xbox.

His leadership will be missed at Nebraska, but it will be of service to others now. Good luck, Zack.

On the other side of the news was the revelation that two players, sophomore wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey and senior defensive lineman Dylan Owen, were hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis last week following a workout. Scott Frost confirmed the news to the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald.

Rhabdo, as it’s often known, is “an acute clinical syndrome of major muscle breakdown and leakage into the bloodstream of muscle contents (electrolytes, myoglobin, other proteins) as reflected by a sharp rise in serum creatine kinase,” according to the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook, and can be brought about by exercise and exertion. If not treated, it can lead to kidney failure and can be life-threatening. It’s a syndrome both serious enough and a persistent enough threat to athletes to merit its own section in the NCAA’s medical handbook.

The reaction to this news has been interesting. For some who have watched Nebraska in recent years get “out-toughed” by opponents, news that offseason workouts are strenuous was heralded as good news. As Frost noted in his comments, the workout that led to the hospitalization was actually scaled back from what they had planned, and that was based on the strength and conditioning staff’s testing of the athletes. That didn’t exactly dispel the notion that Nebraska’s players could’ve been in better condition previously.

But if that’s reality, that’s reality. This is a particularly tough issue to parse because there’s still so much we don’t know. Two players were affected out of the one-hundred-plus that took part in workouts, and individual factors certainly could’ve played a role. That said, I think we also have to be careful not to minimize things here. It was a mistake, which Frost acknowledged, and a potentially serious one.

Oregon player were hospitalized with rhabdo last January following winter workouts, which resulted in a month-long suspension of its new strength and conditioning coach. Thirteen Iowa players were also hospitalized in 2011 with symptoms of rhabdo.

Athletic Director Bill Moos told the Lincoln Journal Star that strength coach Zach Duval will not face any disciplinary action following the incident. Lindsey and Owen were released from the hospital and have returned to the team.

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