Late last month, now former Utah State wide receiver Kyle Van Leeuwen announced on Instagram that he had retired from football.
The reason? Van Leeuwen cited “continual injury,” saying “what a journey it’s been. Due to continual injury, I’m medically retiring from the game of football. I’m beyond blessed and grateful and continue to stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Thank you to my teammates, coaches, family, friends, and Aggie Nation.”
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson went into more specifics this week, noting that multiple knee injuries proved too debilitating for Van Leeuwen to continue this career and do what he wanted to after football.
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“He loves this place and didn’t want to retire,” Anderson said. “He just had multiple knee injuries and the damage that had been done, that was something that was not going to get better.
“They repaired what they could, but the pain and swelling and arthritis, all the above and the joint would not allow for him to even practice, let alone play without substantial swelling and pain on a daily basis.”
Van Leeuwen is still around the Utah State program, post-retirement, and Anderson believes his presence is a “moral boost” to the Aggies.
“He’s taken on a new role,” Anderson said with a wry smile. “I think is his role now is to beat as many people as ping pong as he possibly can on a daily basis.
“He brings morale to the team,” Anderson added. “He’s always got a smile on his face. And just energy that I think is really, really helpful.”
Per Anderson, Van Leeuwen labored over the decision to end his football career early.
The one-time Timpview High standout had been viewed as a potential breakout player for the Aggies last season, before an ACL tear ended his season short.
Before this current season, Van Leeuwen was considered a candidate for one the best bounce-back stories of the year, only that never came to fruition as he continued to struggle with knee issues.
“He agonized over the decision and prayed about it a lot,” Anderson said. “We talked about it a good bit, and he and his family took some time away to really finalize it. But I think ultimately, he knew that was really his only choice, or he was going to be looking at further and further long term damage.
“He wants to raise kids, you know, and be able to put them up on his shoulders and do certain sorts of things that dads wants to do. And if he would have continued to play (football) it would have maybe affected his ability to do that. So we support (his decision to retire). We hate it, but support it.”