Big Ten

Mike Dudek unlikely to return to Illini this season


Mike Dudek unlikely to return to Illini this season

Illinois wide receiver Mike Dudek likely won’t play this season, interim head coach Bill Cubit said during his weekly press conference Monday.

Dudek tore his ACL during spring practice and has been recovering ever since. It was a surprise to many when right after the injury occurred, former head coach Tim Beckman said that Dudek could return by October.

That assessment seemed a little too optimistic at the time, and that’s proven to be the case, as Cubit said Dudek is still weeks away from doing full football activities.

“I still think Mikey’s a couple weeks away. I know earlier there was a projection he’d get back a little bit early. It’s a six-month injury, and until you reach six months, you’re probably not going to be out there,” Cubit said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen, to be perfectly honest with you.”

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The loss of Dudek in the preseason was a huge blow, considering that as a freshman last season he was one of the Big Ten’s best receivers. He ranked second in the conference with 76 receptions and third in the league with 1,038 receiving yards. He turned in just the eighth 1,000-yard season in program history.

In Dudek’s absence, Geronimo Allison has been a go-to receiver for the Illini, currently ranking third in the Big Ten with 601 receiving yards. Allison had his own injury worries following a loss to Iowa two weekends ago, but Cubit said Monday that Allison is ready to play Saturday against Wisconsin after going through concussion protocols.

“Geronimo’s good,” Cubit said. “He went through all the tests, the protocol. It was a good week to get the bye week for him. He’ll be ready to go.”

Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Justin Hardee, who hasn’t played all season, was described as “very, very doubtful” for Saturday's game by Cubit, while it “doesn’t look good” that Marchie Murdock will play, according to Cubit.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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 Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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.