Randy Russell dreamed of playing in The Swamp when he signed with Florida in December. Like other members of the school’s recruiting class, he wanted to emerge from the tunnel with thousands of fans doing the Gator chomp. That dream ended Thursday.
Russell was diagnosed with a heart condition, the team announced, and won’t be able to play football again. The abnormality was discovered during a pre-participation physical.
“As tragic as this is for Randy and his family to hear this news, this discovery is life-saving for him,” Florida coach Dan Mullen wrote in a statement. “We will be fully supportive in any way we can for Randy and his family.”
Mullen added that Russell will still be a part of the team and attend classes at UF, where he’s already enrolled for the spring semester.
“This is the last thing I expected to hear and I would not wish this upon my worst enemy,” Russell, a Miami Carol City alum, wrote in a tweet. “I now understand that I have to make an adjustment, but my goals, my destiny, and my determination prevails.”
Russell was rated as the third best of the four safety prospects in UF’s 2018 class. The 5-10, 180-pound former Chief was rated the 28th-best safety recruit in the nation by the 247Sports Composite.
Russell is the second Florida player in as many months to have his career end prematurely because of a heart condition. Receiver James Robinson, who didn’t play in 2017, was informed in early December that he’d have to give up football as well.