Following a 30-22 Week 0 victory over Nebraska, the Illinois football program got some unfortunate news regarding one of its standout players from that game.
Illini head coach Bret Bielema announced today that linebacker Calvin Hart Jr. underwent season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday.
Bielema elaborated by stating Hart Jr.’s injury was not an ACL issue, but the surgery will sideline the sophomore linebacker for the remainder of the 2021 season regardless.
Hart Jr., a transfer from North Carolina State, made a huge impact in his Illinois debut. He recorded six tackles (two solo, four assisted), 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one QB hit, and a fumble recovery that he took to the end zone for a defensive touchdown. Hart Jr. earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for his stellar performance against Nebraska.
Bielema noted the Illini will look to fill Calvin Hart Jr.’s absence with a committee of Tarique Barnes, Khalan Tolson, and Alec McEachern.