The Illini’s depth chart keeps thinning ahead of the team’s season-opener against Kent State.
Illinois has had bad luck with injuries since the spring, and another struck Tuesday, when head coach Tim Beckman reported that defensive lineman Teko Powell re-aggravated the foot injury that has twice sidelined him since his arrival in Champaign.
Powell has two options with the injury, according to Beckman: He can either wait six weeks and attempt to retake the field, or he can have surgery. The surgery would be his third on the foot during his Illinois career and would knock him out for the entirety of the 2015 season.
Powell missed 10 games last season and was knocked out of spring practice before that.
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Additionally, Beckman said Wednesday that defensive back Caleb Day and defensive lineman Joe Fotu are suspended indefinitely after the duo violated team policy. It’s unknown whether they’ll miss the season-opener.
The Illini have a lengthy list of injured players, including wide receivers Mike Dudek and Justin Hardee, running backs Dre Brown and Reggie Corbin, safety Patrick Nelson and defensive lineman Jihad Ward. Dudek, Brown and Nelson all tore their ACLs during spring practice. Hardee is recovering from a broken foot. Corbin suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder earlier this month. And Ward had to have surgery on his injured knee last week.
But Beckman did deliver some good news Wednesday regarding Ward, saying that the defensive end could be back sooner than expected. He was initially expected to miss the Illini’s first two games of the season.
Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.
Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football.
"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.
"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.
"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline."
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."
"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.
"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."
Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.
Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.
As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.
Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.
The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.