Illinois football’s Dudek out for the season with torn ACL

Illinois+Mike+Dudek+runs+the+ball+during+the+game+against+Iowa+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Nov.+15%2C+2014.+After+missing+the+2015+season%2C+Dudek+will+be+out+for+the%26nbsp%3B2016+campaign+with+a+torn+ACL.

Illinois’ Mike Dudek runs the ball during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 15, 2014. After missing the 2015 season, Dudek will be out for the 2016 campaign with a torn ACL.

By Charlotte Carroll, Sports editor

In April 2015, Illinois football’s wide receiver Mike Dudek tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was projected to play in October 2015. Instead, he missed the entire season.

Now a year later, Dudek is once again sidelined with a torn ACL in the same knee and will have season-ending surgery next week.

“It’s unfortunate,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “But nowadays, you can have certain successful surgeries and come back as strong as ever. that’s what we’re expecting from him.”

Dudek was a 2014 freshman All-American and second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media. He caught 76 passes for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns.

Smith expects the sophomore standout to be back at this time next year. Smith acknowledged it wasn’t easy news to take, but has confidence in his receiver to come back from the injury.

“It’s tough,” Smith said. “He worked himself pretty hard to get back out here, he was pretty excited about the season. He’s had to come back before and he knows the routine and he’ll be back.”

The Illini will lose top wide receiver Geronimo Allison to the NFL Draft next season, giving more players an opportunity to receive a starting position.

Junior Malik Turner was the second-leading receiver on the team, catching 39 balls for 510 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Hardee redshirted his senior season and will return back to the field next season. Hardee caught 19 balls for 240 yards and a touchdown in the 2014 season.

Dudek’s 79.8 yards-per-game freshman totals will be missed. The team averaged 5.63 yards per catch last season and put up 22 point per game.

[email protected]

@charlottecrrll