THE SAD STORY OF FRANKIE TELFORT

124141_featureTelfort’s last football game was a high school All-American game.

Over the weekend, news broke that USC incoming freshman linebacker Frankie Telfort’s football career was over before it ever really got started. Telfort, who came to Southern Cal from Miami’s Gulliver Prep, was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare but extremely dangerous genetic heart condition that is the leading cause of sudden heart-related death in young people.

Telfort was a highly touted football recruit, with an offer list that could be stacked against any prospect in the ’09 signing class. Even though I had only seen grainy highlight films of Telfort’s, I was a fan of his, as it’s hard to dislike any 5-foot-11, 200-pound linebacker that is described as a “little keg of dynamite.”

USC has publicly announced that they will honor Telfort’s scholarship, even if his football career is over.

“This is obviously very difficult news for Frankie, his family and all of us in the football program,” coach Pete Carroll said. “But we’re very thankful doctors discovered the issue before it led to anything worse.”

It  seems like Telfort was one of the true class acts in the incoming class of college football players. Many stories written about Telfort during his recruitment mentioned his ambition, drive, and character. In a nice write-up, Bleacher Report quoted Telfort in 2008 on what he hoped to accomplish at USC. Telfort’s answer was remarkably reassuring.

“Get a great education,” Telford said.

In my sophomore year of high school, I lost a teammate to what was suspected to be hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He was 15 years old, and died shoveling snow in his driveway. It was a terrible tragedy and something that I’m glad USC and Frankie Telfort’s family will hopefully avoid.

“Everybody’s football career unfortunately ends at some point and no one’s ever ready for it,” Carroll said. “For some guys, it comes sooner than expected.”

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