Texas Tech football: Senior DE Lonzell Gilmore retires from football

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 19: Defensive Lineman Lonzell Gilmore #94, head coach Matt Wells, and defensive back Douglas Coleman III #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders wait in the tunnel before the college football game against the Iowa State Cyclones on October 19, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - OCTOBER 19: Defensive Lineman Lonzell Gilmore #94, head coach Matt Wells, and defensive back Douglas Coleman III #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders wait in the tunnel before the college football game against the Iowa State Cyclones on October 19, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /
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On Monday that senior defensive lineman Lonzell Gilmore announced his decision to retire from the Texas Tech football team.

An unfortunate guarantee in the game of football is that injuries are the price every player must pay for playing the game.  In the case of Lonzell Gilmore, that proved to be a price he could no longer afford.  Monday, the senior defensive end announced his decision to retire from the Texas Tech football team due to injuries.

"“Due to a yet another injury, I have decided that it is in my best interest to medically retire from football,” he wrote on Twitter."

From almost the moment Gilmore arrived on campus, injuries kept the physically gifted player from making an impact.  Appearing in just 35 career games, Gilmore was credited with 28 tackles, including 4 1/2 tackles for loss, and 1 1/2 sacks.

But his size and physique made many Texas Tech fans expect more.  Signing with the Red Raiders out of Spring, Texas in 2015, Gilmore was a very low 3-star prospect and the No. 229 player in Texas according to 247Sports.com.

Being 6-foot-3 and just 220 pounds at the time, he was not ready to play as a true freshman as he redshirted his first year on campus.  However, he had put on as much as 60 pounds by the start of last season and looked poised to finally make an impact after missing the final five games of 2017 with a knee injury.

In 2018, he appeared in all 12 games but came up with just 1.5 sacks.  This year, he missed portions of spring practice and most of fall camp with a biceps tear.  Now, a reoccurrence of that injury has forced him to retire after he tore his biceps in the Iowa State game.

This is a significant blow to a Red Raider defensive line that is already woefully thin.  Over the last two games, the Red Raiders have registered merely one sack on 70 pass attempts by the opposition.

What’s more, the defense has been prone to wearing down in the second half of games, which is what we saw again in Saturday night’s 37-34 loss to Kansas.  While Gilmore was never going to be the fix-all for this defense, he was a veteran player capable of spelling the starting ends for a series or two and providing the defense with some versatility.

Now that he is no longer with the team, more responsibility will fall to sophomore Nelson Mbanasor and true freshman Tony Bradford Jr., who both missed this week’s loss in Lawrence.  With a week off, that pair may be ready to return when Tech travels to West Virginia on November 9th.  If not, the Red Raiders will be in a tough spot.

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Gilmore earned two degrees while at Texas Tech.  He was lauded by his coaches and teammates as a program guy and a leader by example, especially in the locker room.  But his playing career will always be a case of what could have been if injuries did not constantly derail the career of a player with as much natural athleticism as any on campus.