James Franklin flew to Virginia to tell his prized offensive lineman that his football career was finished.
But that his life was quite possibly saved.
The Penn State head coach broke the harsh football news in person to offensive tackle Nana Asiedu and his parents in their Stafford-area home — days before he graduated from high school and then arrived in State College to begin his freshman year.
The ordeal began this spring when Asiedu underwent typical medical testing for all incoming football players.
Warning signs flashed about his heart. More testing at Hershey Medical Center in late May confirmed that Asiedu suffers from a serious version of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, said Joe Mangano, Asiedu’s coach at Virginia’s North Stafford High.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a “common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people, including young athletes,” according to the American Heart Association. It causes the walls of the ventricles to thicken, which can alter and block blood flow and lead to high blood pressure and arrhythmias.
For now, Penn State doctors have instructed Asiedu not to play pickup basketball or even work out vigorously. He is keeping his athletic scholarship and is promised to remain a part of the football program if he desires, according to the university.
“Is the glass half empty or half full? Does God have a bigger plan for him?” Mangano said. “Yeah, you may never play football again, but let’s say this condition wasn’t caught.
“There’s a really good chance they may have saved his life … there was a possibility he could have died on the field.”
Maryland Terps football player and former Penn State recruit Jordan McNair died earlier this month, two weeks after collapsing during an organized team workout.
On Wednesday, Asiedu announced on social media that he was afflicted with the genetic disease and that his football career must end. The former four-star recruit was ranked as the nation’s No. 11 offensive tackle and the No. 3 overall talent in Virginia, according to 247Sports.