Jake Butt has a pretty significant knee injury, it seems. But the Michigan tight end never once considered not playing in Friday night's Orange Bowl.
Butt was down on the ground in what appeared to be a heck of a lot of pain during the first half of Michigan's loss to Florida State down in Miami. He left the game and never returned, his college career coming to an end at that moment. After the game, head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that Butt sustained an injury to his ACL or MCL.
It's a huge blow for Butt's professional future. He opted to return to Michigan after last season and won the Big Ten Tight End of the Year award for the second straight season and was one of the best tight ends in the country. He was expected to be selected in the NFL Draft, but this injury makes his immediate pro prospects a mystery.
Of course, in the aftermath of suffering the injury, the conversation turned to the high-profile decisions made by a few other college stars to skip their teams' bowl games in order to avoid injury and prepare for the NFL. Star running backs Leonard Fournette of LSU and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford chose to sit out rather than risk injury. Butt's injury makes those decisions look pretty smart.
Butt, however, took to Twitter after the Orange Bowl and said he never considered making the same move Fournette and McCaffrey did.
It doesn't seem like anyone should be able to fault either decision, the one to play in a final college game or the one to minimize risk of injury while readying for a big NFL payday. For someone like Butt, a big performance with a massive national audience watching could vastly improve his draft standing. For someone like Fournette, already considered one of the top running backs in the draft, perhaps his draft stock could only go down — and an injury could be catastrophic.
It remains to be seen what the extent of Butt's injury is or how it will affect his draft prospects. But it seems Butt wouldn't have missed the Orange Bowl for the world.
Future players might not feel the same way after seeing what happened.
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.