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October 29, 2013From unheralded two-star recruit with only a single BCS scholarship offer (from Stanford) to team captain and All-Pac-12 performer, defensive end Ben Gardner's rise on The Farm mirrored that of the Cardinal program. But on Tuesday, Stanford coach David Shaw revealed that Gardner had suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in Stanford's victory over Oregon State.
"Ben Gardner will miss the remainder of the season with a pectoral injury," David Shaw said. "Tough on Ben, as you know he's been playing through pain for about a month. This is an unrelated injury. Just bad body position at the wrong time and forces going opposite ways. It was just a bad thing. Ben was voted a team team captain and has been one of the reasons why we we've been where we are defensively. As a coach you're not supposed to have favorites but I've told Ben and I've told the team, Ben's always been one of my favorites. He's a guy who came in as a two-star guy that has done nothing but work his tail off to get to where is. From two stars to a guy that NFL teams are talking about. He'll have a chance at the next level to get into camp and try to make a team."
Below is an open letter Gardner released through Stanford's media relations department.
To the Stanford Family:
As my Stanford Football career has come to an abrupt and unexpected close, millions of thoughts are flying through my head. While this is not the way I had imagined my college playing days ending, all I can do is look up and thank God for one heck of a ride. During my five years at Stanford, I was fortunate enough to start 34 games, compete in three BCS Bowl Games, and win a Pac-12 Championship. Along the way, I was able to play with countless NFL stars, learn from dozens of great coaches, and work with a group of men who I consider to be my family on a daily basis. For these reasons, I consider myself one of the luckiest 22-year-old men on the planet. Although this injury will undoubtedly make my transition to professional football more challenging, I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and I like my chances. People have doubted me for my entire career and they will continue to do so, but I trust that my experiences at Stanford have put me in a position where I cannot fail. In the meantime, I will fulfill my duties as a team captain, and I'll be right there alongside my boys when we finish our journey towards the Pac-12 Championship. What we do here at Stanford is special, and I can't wait to soak it all in over the next two months with my brothers. The #partyinthebackfield never stops, so let's beat Oregon and keep this thing rolling. Thank you all for five amazing years.
#49 Ben Gardner
Reaction to Gardner's injury poured in from across college football on twitter. Here is a sampling of some.