This is tough news for a really great kid who had a chance to be one of the very best tight ends Penn State ever had.

Adam Breneman announced today through Penn State that he essentially will be retiring due to the chronic knee problems that he has battled through since he missed his senior year in high school.

“I want to thank coach (Bill) O’Brien and coach (James) Franklin, my teammates and the Penn State fans for the great memories over the last three years,” Breneman said in a statement released by Penn State. “I have truly treasured my time as a Nittany Lion, and I am confident that the Penn State experience has prepared me for the next phase of my life.”

Breneman was a force away from the field during his three years with Penn State. A lot has been made about Christian Hackenberg’s commitment to the program in the summer of 2012, but Breneman did just about as much to hold that class together. He was the top tight end recruit in the nation, after all, and if Hackenberg was going to be O’Brien’s Brady, then Breneman was his Gronk. Breneman would go on to serve on the executive board for Uplifting Athletes for three years. He was also part of the university’s Athletic Director Leadership Institute, as well as the football team’s leadership council. He graduated in December, needing just three years to complete his business degree with a 3.25 GPA.

And on the field, he was a heck of a player. As a true freshman during that 2013 season, he had 15 catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns, including a key 68-yard touchdown reception for the first score in that now-famous upset of Wisconsin.

But he missed his entire senior season of high school with a knee injury, and he’d play in just two more games — both essentially cameos this past season — because of more knee problems.

And so, in less than a week, easily the two most important recruits of the Bill O’Brien era — Hackenberg and Breneman — are gone.

UPDATE: Breneman penned an open letter to Penn State for Pennlive.com, his hometown paper. It’s well worth a read.