SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- UCLA middle linebacker Patrick Larimore will take a medical retirement because of multiple concussions, coach Jim Mora said after practice Monday during training camp at Cal State San Bernardino.
Larimore, a senior who was a team captain last season, suffered a concussion in April and sat out the latter portion of spring practice. He returned for the first two days of training camp, but had another concussion Aug. 6 and hasn't been back since.
He left camp to be examined by doctors at UCLA, then came back and informed his coaches and players of his decision Sunday night.
"After talking it over with the doctors and talking it over with his family and the way he felt, he felt that for his future heath and long-term health that he should medically retire," Mora said.
"Obviously it was a very tough decision for Patrick and a very tough decision for this team. Patrick was very mature in his decision and gave it a lot of thought. He didn't get captured in the moment and only thinking about the here and now."
Larimore, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, was a starter since his sophomore season. He was the team's defensive MVP last season after leading the team with 81 tackles. As a sophomore, he was named the Nagurski defensive player of the week after registering 12 tackles in a game against Houston.
He was the defensive leader on the field, calling out the plays and formations, but was equally important off the field as a high-character peer who kept his teammates in line.
"On the field, off the field, in the locker room, from snap to whistle, it's hard to replace a Patrick Larimore," Mora said. "It's really hard to replace that intensity, that passion, that commitment to the game."
Mora said it was a difficult decision for Larimore, but also a wise one for his long-term health.
"Just because of what's going on in the world of concussions, and the things that we're finding out on a daily basis, I think you always have to be prepared for this when a guy is suffering multiple concussions and he plays that position," Mora said. "When you're a middle linebacker or an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman, you can't play games without collisions. Unfortunately it took its toll on Patrick."
Fellow linebacker Jordan Zumwalt said it "felt like someone died" when the team received the news.
"Our hearts just kind of hit the floor," Zumwalt said. "It sounded like you could hear it. Everybody was pretty down right away."
Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks now will be looked upon as the veteran leaders of the linebacker group, but they both said nobody can replace what they are losing with Larimore in terms of experience, physicality and leadership.
"Everyone is going to have their own little role now," Kendricks said. "We all have to pick up something whether it's talking or physicality, we all have to pick up something in our game."