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Illinois Northwestern Football (copy)

Illinois defensive end Bobby Roundtree suffered a severe spinal cord injury on Saturday near his hometown of Largo, Fla.

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois junior football player Bobby Roundtree suffered a severe spinal injury in a swimming accident near his home of Largo, Fla., on Saturday.

Surgeons at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., where Roundtree is recovering, performed surgery Sunday night.

"This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends," Illini head coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. "We will give Bobby all the support possible as he battles through his recovery. Please keep Bobby and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

Roundtree, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end, started 20 of 24 games during his first two seasons at Illinois, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2018. He was projected as one of the Illini’s top players entering his junior season in 2019. Smith, several Illini coaches, along with many family members and friends, gathered at the hospital over the weekend in support of Roundtree.

"Please everyone send there prayers towards Bobby and his family," teammate Deon Pate wrote in a tweet. "He was more than a teammate he was a brother and we all know how much you loved the game. Love you bro."

Last season as a sophomore, Roundtree led the team in tackles for loss (12.5), sacks (7.5) and pass breakups (7), and was third in tackles (66).

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Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25

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