Illinois football responds to Dudek’s season-ending injury

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Illinois football responds to Dudek’s season-ending injury

Illinois' Mike Dudek (18) runs the ball during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The Illini lost 38-27.

Illinois' Mike Dudek (18) runs the ball during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The Illini lost 38-27.

Folake Osibodu/The Daily Illini

Illinois' Mike Dudek (18) runs the ball during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The Illini lost 38-27.

Folake Osibodu/The Daily Illini

Folake Osibodu/The Daily Illini

Illinois' Mike Dudek (18) runs the ball during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The Illini lost 38-27.

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. ag

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.ag

“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 mediaag. He caught 76 passes for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns.ag

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.”

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@charlottecrrll