Jeremy Werner

Illini freshman WR Dominic Thieman out for season

Freshman wide receiver Dominic Thieman suffered a season-ending leg injury against Minnesota; Lovie also updates health of Lunt, Turner and Vaughn

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CHAMPAIGN -Illinos wide receiver Dominic Thieman will have season-ending surgery on Tuesday, Illini coach Lovie Smith said Monday. Thieman left Saturday's 40-17 loss with an injury, which the freshman tweeted was a broken ankle.

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The Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas product had a career-high four catches for 25 yards before suffering the injury. He finishes his first season with six catches for 32 yards.

Illinois is high on the true freshman's future.

"I think Dom is going to be fantastic," Illini offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. "Dom is a part of the process for sure Dom can get down the field. Dom is a baby version of Malik (Turner). He can catch. He can run. He can really jump. You guys (in the media) only get to see him now on game day. We get to see him every day during individual periods and one-on-ones, so we really know the potential that the kid has." 

Malik Turner, who leads the Illini with 523 receiving yards and four touchdowns, was taken off the field on a stretcher on Saturday and taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Smith said the junior wideout's status for this week's game at Michigan State is uncertain.

"He didn't finish the game, so there's cause for concern," Smith said. "But he's back in the building. We'll see how it goes this week."

As for senior quarterback Wes Lunt, Smith said "there's not a whole lot more" to update on his status. Lunt, who has missed the last three games due to a back injury, is "getting better," Smith said.

"We hope he'll be much improved," Smith said. "We'll see tomorrow (at practice)."

Sophomore running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who has 298 rushing yards and three touchdowns, also left the game with an apparent lower leg injury.

"He's getting better too," Smith said. "But there's concern for him also. He's on that injury list right now. Can't wait to get out there tomorrow to see just exactly how much he's improved since then."

Smith announced Saturday that sophomore quarterback Chayce Crouch is out for the season after undergoing season-ending surgery for an injury, suspected to be a shoulder injury.


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