Defensive tackle Teko Powell will undergo season-ending foot surgery next week, Illinois head football coach Tim Beckman told reporters Thursday after practice.
Powell decided to have surgery to repair the fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot rather than wait six weeks before being re-evalutated. He suffered the same injury to same bone the past two seasons. He played 10 games last season and received a medical hardship waiver. It is the third surgery during his Illinois career.
Powell could petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt to gain a sixth-year of eligibility.
Junior Chunky Clements and Rob Bain are expected to start at defensive tackles, while redshirt freshman Tito Odenigbo and true freshman Jamal Milan will serve as backups. Senior Joe Fotu, was also suppose to serve as a second-stringer but he was suspended indefinitely Wednesday after a violation of team policy.
The Illini have a lengthy list of injured players, including wide receivers Mike Dudek and Justin Hardee, running backs Dre Brown and Reggie Corbin, safety Patrick Nelson and defensive end Jihad Ward.
Dudek, Brown and Nelson all tore their ACLs during spring practice. Hardee is recovering from a broken foot. Corbin suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder earlier this month.
Beckman did deliver some good news about Ward on Wednesday, stating the senior starter, who was expected to miss the first two games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week, could return sooner than anticipated.
The Illini open their 2015 season Sept. 4 against Kent State at Memorial Stadium.