Chris Klieman gives an injury update on K-State linebacker Justin Hughes
Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman provided an unfortunate injury update on Justin Hughes following the Wildcats’ spring showcase on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Hughes, a senior linebacker and team leader for K-State, suffered a torn ACL in practice last week and will not be able to play next season.
“I’m sick for the kid,” Klieman said. “I love him. He knows how I feel about him. In my opinion, in my short time around him, he was the heart and soul of our football team. The kids love him, the coaches love him.”
There is no sugar-coating the injury. It is a potentially major blow for K-State’s defense. Hughes came on strong late last season to make 56 tackles while starting seven games. He was in line to start again for the Wildcats and serve as a team captain.
Elijah Sullivan and DaQuan Patton served as K-State’s top two linebackers without Hughes on Saturday.
Hughes watched his K-State teammates practice from the sideline on crutches. He declined an interview request afterward, but said the injury occurred last Monday when he accidentally collided with a teammate in practice.
“We were devastated,” K-State safety Denzel Goolsby said. “Justin is the type of guy you can’t replace as a leader or a player. Luckily he is going to be on the sidelines motivating and coaching guys for us. But at the end of the day it definitely hurts our team.”
Hughes hopes to play again in 2020.
If there is a silver lining from this situation, it is that the Tucker, Georgia, native stands a good chance of obtaining a waiver from the NCAA to continue playing after he recovers.
“He will be back,” Klieman said. “He has got an opportunity to get a medical hardship and he is going to do that because he loves the game of football. The thing for him is to be that great leader and the great captain he is from the sideline next year. He will be challenged by it, but i think he will grow from it and come back stronger and better than ever next year. I am really confident he is going to be back in 2020.”