Oregon State football player Casey Kjos retired due to lingering back injuries, coach Mike Riley announced Wednesday.
The three-year letterman slot back ends his career with 10 receptions for 103 yards. He started three games and scored his lone career touchdown last season on a 9-yard reception at Oregon.
Kjos is a two-time Pac-10 Conference All-Academic first-team selection and is on track to earn bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology in June.
"It was an extremely difficult decision not only due to the fact that I love this game, but that I love this team, love my teammates and love the coaches," Kjos said. "I have been blessed and am very thankful for the opportunities coach Riley and the other coaches have given me."
Kjos came to OSU in 2006 from Middletown, Ohio, and played on special teams as a true freshman. He missed all of 2007 with a back injury.
"I had a relapse again," Kjos said. "I was working out and I don't know what happened. I had another cortisone shot, and it didn't help. After praying about it for a while God told me that it was OK give up football."
He returned in 2008 as a special teams player and reserve receiver. He made two catches for 15 yards at Penn State.
Kjos began last season as a starter, but his lingering back injuries forced him into a backup role. Jordan Bishop took over and caught 13 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"It wasn't about me not wanting to fight back again," Kjos said. "I had to think about my future and my health. The more I got hurt, the more worried I was about my future."
Bishop, a sophomore, will go into the season as the starter. Senior Aaron Nichols would be the backup.
Kjos retiring clears a scholarship for Aaron Nichols, a walk-on the last four years. Riley said earlier this week he wants to find a scholarship for Nichols, who has been a backup at all three receiver positions.
"It's always disappointing when a player has to leave the sport due to injury," Riley said. "Casey has fought back injuries for a couple of seasons and I know it was a difficult decision for him to make. He has been a very committed and hard working player for Oregon State and we certainly wish him all the best."