Former Penn State tight end Adam Breneman is retiring from football due to ongoing injury concerns.
Breneman — a fan favorite who committed to Penn State with quarterback Christian Hackenberg, marking a significant time in the program — penned a letter on Tuesday afternoon announcing his decision.
“Letting go of my dream to play in the NFL has taken some time to accept, but I have come to terms with the reality that God has a different plan for me,” Breneman wrote. “My career was not perfect and certainly not how I imagined it back when I was a five-star recruit, but it was my reality. My journey is my story, and I’ve learned to be very proud of it.”
Breneman committed to Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lions as a highly-regarded pass-catcher from Cedar Cliff in 2013, when a dark cloud still hung over the Penn State program. He and Hackenberg led the fourth-best recruiting class in the Big Ten, helping keep the Nittany Lions on-track in the face of NCAA sanctions.
When he chose Penn State, fans dreamed of Hackenberg-to-Breneman touchdown connections for years to come. But knee issues became the reality.
In 2014, Breneman found out he had “significant damage” in his left knee, and he was put to the test with a “complicated surgery and a long recovery process.” “At the time, my doctors told me that my knee would never again be the same,” Breneman wrote, “and that there was a chance I would never come back from the injury.”
In January 2016, he wrote a letter to Penn State fans announcing his retirement.
Breneman came back, though. After a brief stint working in Pennsylvania politics, he transferred to UMass in hopes of rekindling his potential. And he did. In two seasons, he recorded 134 receptions for 1,572 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Minutemen.
Breneman was poised to make a run at that NFL dream. Before the 2017 season, he was ranked the No. 8 tight end prospect in the country by CBS Sports, just behind Penn State’s Mike Gesicki.
But, as Breneman wrote, daily training for the 2018 NFL draft was too much to bear. He had to pull out of the Senior Bowl, and “after additional medical evaluations and creative treatments” he and his doctors came “to the realization that there is no solution that will allow” him to keep playing football.
But Breneman is staying positive. The former tight end, who has an undergraduate degree from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and his M.B.A. from UMass’ Isenberg School of Management, doesn’t want fans to feel sorry for him.
Even though his football career didn’t work out the way he originally planned — he had only 15 catches for the Nittany Lions — Breneman is “forever grateful” for the opportunities football has given him.
“From the people on the Cedar Cliff community and throughout central Pennsylvania, to the amazing fans at Penn State, and my great supporters at UMass, you all have greatly impacted my life in such an amazing way,” Breneman said. “While this chapter of my life is coming to a close, I look forward to what the future has in store for me and writing the next chapter of my life.”