Stanford all-conference defensive end Ben Gardner will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the Oregon State game last Saturday. Gardner is a fifth-year senior, so this effectively ends his Stanford career. He will undergo surgery on Thursday.
Gardner’s loss is massive for the Cardinal, both physically and emotionally. He is a two-time All-Pac-12 player and member of several prominent preseason award lists. His 4.5 sacks are second on the team. He is also a team captain and an inspirational leader.
He issued the following statement:
"As my Stanford Football career has come to an abrupt and unexpected close, millions of thoughts are flying through my head. While this is not the way I had imagined my college playing days ending, all I can do is look up and thank God for one heck of a ride.
During my five years at Stanford, I was fortunate enough to start 34 games, compete in three BCS Bowl Games, and win a Pac-12 Championship. Along the way, I was able to play with countless NFL stars, learn from dozens of great coaches, and work with a group of men who I consider to be my family on a daily basis. For these reasons, I consider myself one of the luckiest 22-year-old men on the planet.
Although this injury will undoubtedly make my transition to professional football more challenging, I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and I like my chances. People have doubted me for my entire career and they will continue to do so, but I trust that my experiences at Stanford have put me in a position where I cannot fail.
In the meantime, I will fulfill my duties as a team captain, and I'll be right there alongside my boys when we finish our journey towards the Pac-12 Championship. What we do here at Stanford is special, and I can’t wait to soak it all in over the next two months with my brothers.
The #partyinthebackfield never stops, so let’s beat Oregon and keep this thing rolling. Thank you all for five amazing years."
The timing of this injury is particularly unfortunate, as No. 5 Stanford prepares for its showdown with No. 2 Oregon a week from Thursday. The winner of that game will have the inside track on a berth in the conference title game, not to mention the obvious BCS ramifications.
One bit of good news for the Cardinal – they might be replacing one star defensive end with another. Senior Henry Anderson, who hasn’t played since injuring his knee against Army in September, is close to a return to practice and might be cleared to play against the Ducks.
Other Cardinal injury notes: WR Devon Cajuste (knee) is still battling pain issues but is hopeful to return for Oregon. Likewise for K Jordan Williamson (leg), who has missed the last two games. Redshirt freshman Conrad Ukropina has handled kicking duties the last two weeks, connecting on one of two field goals and missing an extra point against Oregon State.