For the second season in a row, Illinois wide receiver Mike Dudek will be out of action due to a torn ACL. The redshirt sophomore receiver tore his right ACL in a non-contact drill in spring practice last Saturday. It is the same injury he experienced a year ago in spring practices, nearly to the day.
Illinois head coach Lovie Smith announced Dudek will undergo season-ending surgery sometime next week.
“It’s really unfortunate. He worked himself hard to get back out here this spring and was excited about the season,” Smith told reporters following a spring practice Friday. “Nowadays you can have successful surgery and come back as strong as ever and that’s what we expect from him… He’ll go through this process again and will be on the road to recovery before you know it.”
Dudek was a rising star for the Illini in 2014 as a true freshmen, but has been relegated to the sideline for two straight falls now due to injuries. Dudek has already used a redshirt year since joining the program, so it will be up to the NCAA to determine whether or not he be granted an extra year for a medical exemption,should Dudek and Illinois eventually apply for it down the road.
The loss of Dudek is a tough one for the Illinois offense, which should take on a new look this season with a new coaching staff including Garrick McGee as offensive coordinator. Illinois returns Malik Turner and Desmond Cain as leading receivers this fall, but Dudek was expected to help lead the receivers as he did as a freshman in 2014 with a 1,000-yard season and a team-high six touchdown catches.