CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Lovie Smith announced for the third time in his three seasons, running back Mike Esptein will not finish the season due to injury.
This time an injury to his knee in the season opening win over Akron will cost his 11 games. The Florida native previously missed games in the last two seasons with foot fractures.
Epstein lead the Illini in rushing yards in the with, with 45 on eight carries. The injury occurred in the third quarter of the game on Saturday.
He also missed his junior season in high school with a knee injury, a torn ACL.
“I couldn’t really even enjoy Saturday as much as I wanted to because I’m roommates with the kid and so I know everything he’s been through,” linebacker Jake Hansen said. “It’s sad to see a kid that does everything right go through something like that.”
“My hearts broken,” offensive lineman Alex Palczewski said. “He’s, if not the, he’s probably one of the hardest working guys on our team. Every single day, every single decision that he makes in his life is determining on if it makes him a better football player. I haven’t seen the guy eat a cheat meal the last two years.”
“All this young man does is does everything right and if anybody deserves to have success, it’s Mike Epstein,” offensive coordinator Rod Smith said. “He might have had the best fall camp of any of the backs we have. I was excited to see, watch him take off this year.”
The Illini travel to UConn on Saturday for a 2:30 kickoff.