Illinois DL Roundtree suffers severe spinal injury

Illinois defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree suffered a severe spinal injury in a swimming accident Saturday near his home in Florida.

According to an Illinois news release, Roundtree underwent surgery Sunday night at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida, where he remains recovering. Roundtree, a junior with Illinois who started 20 games during his first two seasons, is a native of Largo, Florida.

"Bobby Roundtree is exactly what you want in a student-athlete," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said in a prepared statement. "He is a hard worker, dependable, a dedicated student and a leader. This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends. 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."

Athletic department spokesman Kent Brown said in an email to The Associated Press later Monday that Roundtree remained hospitalized but he was able to "eat and speak normally.''

Smith and several Illini coaches joined Roundtree's family members and friends at the hospital this weekend. Roundtree earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2018, when he recorded 66 tackles and led the team in sacks (7.5) tackles for loss (12.5) and pass breakups (7).

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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