Big Ten

Running back Dre Brown latest Illini to go down with ACL tear


Running back Dre Brown latest Illini to go down with ACL tear

The Illini lost another key offensive weapon to an ACL tear during practice last week.

Head coach Tim Beckman reported after Saturday's spring game that running back Dre Brown, an incoming freshman from DeKalb who enrolled early as one of the program's top recruits, tore his ACL and will miss an extended period of time.

"He has an ACL," Beckman said. "We found out (Friday) night at about 5:30. Tough one for that young man because it was a non-contact practice, it was a non-contact play that it occurred on. He came back and practiced even more, a couple more plays and it wasn't fazing him. But we felt, when we came back the next morning it was a little bit swollen, so we're going to be precautionary and take and do MRIs if we feel that is necessary. And it was necessary, and it came back that it was an ACL. No MCL, no cartilage. Just the ACL."

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The injury to Brown follows up the torn ACL of soon-to-be-sophomore wide receiver Mike Dudek, the Illini's top pass-catcher from a year ago and one of the top receivers in the Big Ten. Like Dudek's injury, Brown's came on a non-contact drill in practice.

Brown was expected to be the No. 2 running back behind starter Josh Ferguson. Brown was a three-star recruit out of DeKalb, one of the more exciting names on Illinois' Class of 2015 commitment list.

Beckman said that Brown's recovery could be shorter than the typical time it takes to return from an ACL injury because the damage was minimal elsewhere in his knee. He said the same thing about Dudek's injury, estimating that the wideout could return to action by October.

"That hasn't been determined, the exact amount of time, but an ACL is usually six months," Beckman said. "But because this wasn't as damaging as some of the other ACLs that occurred earlier in the season — although Dudek's, we hope that it won't be quite six months."

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As for who will take Brown's place on the depth chart behind Ferguson, that's also yet to be determined. Beckman mentioned transfer Henry Enyenihi, who rushed for 92 yards in Saturday's spring game, and also alluded to incoming freshmen Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Reggie Corbin. Vaughn, a four-star prospect out of Tennessee, was the Illini's highest-ranked recruit in the incoming class. It's possible he could make some noise as a freshman.

"We've got two young men coming in, and we're very excited about those two young men coming in, which builds a little bit more depth," Beckman said. "But you've got Henry Enyenihi, who I thought did an outstanding job (Saturday). ... Of course, Kendrick Foster, who's been with us, will be another one that will compete."

Regardless of who takes over behind Ferguson, the Illini are in a serious offensive hole to start the season with two players expected to make big-time contributions sidelined.


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.