Artur Sitkowski won’t get the chance to play against his former team this weekend.
The Illini host Rutgers, but Illinois will be without its quarterback after Sitkowski suffered a season ending arm injury in overtime Saturday afternoon. Bret Bielema announced the injury at his weekly press conference Monday.
“Art [Sitkowski] unfortunately did break his arm,” Bielema said. “He’ll be done for the year.”
This comes after Sitkowski transferred to Illinois after spending parts of three years with Rutgers. He came in when Brandon Peters was injured in the Illini’s season opener against Nebraska and led Illinois to a 30-22 win, throwing for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
He started the next two games for Illinois, both losses, before Peters returned to action. But Sitkowski was called on midway through Illinois’ blowout loss against Wisconsin when Peters was injured once again — and Sitkowski got the nod against Penn State.
His season ends with 704 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Bielema mentioned that this could come as a blessing in disguise.
Sitkowski suffered a shoulder injury on his throwing arm before coming to Illinois. He had only told Bielema, not his teammates, but the coaching staff knew Sitkowski would eventually need shoulder surgery to get everything right.
Bielema, Sitkowski and the rest of the coaching staff had been discussing when to shut him down for the rest of the year and give him the best chance to get game reps now as well as be ready to play come next season. Well, now — instead of making that hard decision — the answer came for itself.
“When that surgery gets done in his left hand, about two to four weeks later he’ll get surgery done on his right shoulder,” Bielema said.
Peters slots to be the starter in the meantime, with Ryan Johnson next-in-line.
In other injury news, Bielema said the Illini expect to get Chase Brown back this week, Sydney Brown will continue playing with a club on his hand and Vederian Lowe is progressing toward a return either this or next week.