Pelzel hanging up his cleats

Nagging knee injury causes retirement

Josh Pelzel (70) was a first team All-State offensive lineman for the Rockdale Tigers in 2014 and three-time all-district choice. 
Baylor Sports Photo Josh Pelzel (70) was a first team All-State offensive lineman for the Rockdale Tigers in 2014 and three-time all-district choice. Baylor Sports Photo For the first time in his young life, Josh Pelzel was forced to gaze into the future rather than deal with what was right in front of him.

He chose the future.

A nagging knee injury that has hampered his return to the football field has caused Pelzel to retire from football.

“I had to think about my future more than just a football player. Doctors told me if I wanted to play with my kids when I was 40— it’s something to think about.”

The saga began in the spring of 2016 when the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Baylor offensive tackle injured the ACL in his right knee in the Bears spring scrimmage.

Pelzel—a first-team All- State lineman for Rockdale in 2014—missed most of the 2016 season while rehabbing and he was looking forward to getting a fresh start in 2017.

But when Pelzel took part in this year’s spring workouts, something didn’t feel right.

“I was always sore, but it started bothering me a lot more. After looking at it, it had given out.”

In the previous rehab stint, the tests went well.

This time, after another MRI, doctors told him the graft that had been done was starting to fray.

For his well being, he was encouraged to give up football.

“I couldn’t find a doctor that would tell me to give it a shot.”

Ten doctors from Houston to Dallas told him no.

“It was a long process to make the decision. Me, my parents, all came to an agreement.”

His mind made up, Pelzel met with new Baylor coach Matt Rhule and his staff and informed them of his decision and they wished him well.

Redshirted in 2014, Pelzel played for three head coaches at Baylor.

Pelzel is disappointed in the fact that he really didn’t get a proper opportunity to prove himself to the new staff.

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed. To do everything I did to come back out and going out there in the spring.”

Always team-first, one concern for Pelzel is the Bears don’t have much depth in the offensive line.

Pelzel, who is a redshirt junior, will remain a student at Baylor and will even have the opportunity to remain a part of the football program.

“I talked with offensive line coach George DeLeone and he said if I wanted to I could do some sort of graduate assistant position with the team, I’m more than welcome to.”

“That would allow me to still be a part of the team and still be around my teammates.”

A champion in the classroom, Pelzel has his academic future all mapped out.

He was named to the Big 12 commissioner’s honor roll and is a business major and is planning to be a systems analyst or designer.

Pelzel has no regrets despite his setbacks at Baylor.

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been a rough ride, but I have made a lot of friends and it has been a blessing for me and my family. Nothing could change that.”

“It’s unfortunate for sure, but everything happens for a reason. I’ve made peace with it.”


Digits—6- foot-6, 320 pounds

Academics— Named to Big 12 commissioner’s honor roll, pre-business major

Rockdale—First-team All- State offensive lineman; 3-time all-district; played in 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl All-Star game

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