Roundtree suffers spinal cord injury

Illinois+defensive+lineman+Bobby+Roundtree+%2897%29+sacks+Iowa+quarterback+Nate+Stanley+%284%29+during+the+game+against+Iowa+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Nov.+17%2C+2018.+Roundtree+suffered+a+major+spinal+injury+on+Monday.
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Roundtree suffers spinal cord injury

Illinois defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree (97) sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (4) during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. Roundtree suffered a major spinal injury on Monday.

Illinois defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree (97) sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (4) during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. Roundtree suffered a major spinal injury on Monday.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree (97) sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (4) during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. Roundtree suffered a major spinal injury on Monday.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree (97) sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (4) during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. Roundtree suffered a major spinal injury on Monday.

By JJ Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois star defensive end Bobby Roundtree suffered a major spinal injury in a swimming accident Saturday. The accident occurred near his home in Largo, Florida, and the junior underwent surgery on Sunday at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida.

 “Bobby Roundtree is exactly what you want in a student-athlete,” said head coach Lovie Smith in a statement. “He is a hard worker, dependable, a dedicated student and a leader. This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends. We will give Bobby all the support possible as he battles through his recovery. Please keep Bobby and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Friends, family and members of the Illinois coaching staff including Smith and defensive line coach Austin Clark, traveled down to Florida to visit Roundtree. Clark was already in the area for recruiting purposes, but the rest of the defensive line were told what had happened to their teammate on Sunday.

A team spokesman said Roundtree is able to eat solid foods, talk and has been sitting up. They also said Smith is still in Florida and will look to stay for several days.

As soon as the rest of the team heard the news, tweets supporting the injured Roundtree came flooding in.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The countless talks we’ve had about our dreams and what we wanted in our futures. You were there when I was at my lowest and you know my family and I are with you this whole process. We serve a living God and I know he will work his miracles with you. Amen. <a href=”https://twitter.com/BobbyRoundtr97?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BobbyRoundtr97</a> <a href=”https://t.co/lCFISVLKyY”>pic.twitter.com/lCFISVLKyY</a></p>&mdash; Lere Oladipo (@OladipoLere) <a href=”https://twitter.com/OladipoLere/status/1130503795333574656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 20, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Tough times don’t last, tough people do. This is one of the toughest dudes I know! I need everyone to send a prayer out to my brother. I love you Big Bob🙏🏾 <a href=”https://twitter.com/BobbyRoundtr97?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BobbyRoundtr97</a> <a href=”https://t.co/e3DxcO0qLo”>pic.twitter.com/e3DxcO0qLo</a></p>&mdash; Kenyon Jackson (@kenyonjackson95) <a href=”https://twitter.com/kenyonjackson95/status/1130489224468324353?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 20, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Praying for you bro. You are a brother for life, you’re in my prayers. Much love <a href=”https://twitter.com/BobbyRoundtr97?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BobbyRoundtr97</a> stay strong ❤️🤞🏾</p>&mdash; Mj Rivers (@King_2_Be) <a href=”https://twitter.com/King_2_Be/status/1130537468997054465?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 20, 2019</a></blockquote>
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The 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pound defensive end is one of the Illini’s most promising players. As a sophomore last season, Roundtree led the team in sacks (7 1/2), tackles for loss (12 1/2) and pass breakups (seven) while also finishing third on the team in tackles (66). For his work, Roundtree earned the All-Big Ten honorable mention and looked to become one of the top-tier pass rushers in the country. 

This story is ongoing and will be updated.

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