Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen, a Lawrence native and team captain who was second on the team in tackles last year, will sit out the remainder of the season with a right hamstring injury, coach David Beaty announced Tuesday.
“It’s not responding like we thought it would,” Beaty said. “We don’t feel like we have enough time to get him well enough to be able to get back in there and help us.”
Dineen, a junior who started KU’s first three games, was hurt early in the Jayhawks’ 43-7 loss at Memphis on Sept. 17. Because he will miss the final nine games, he should be eligible for a medical redshirt.
“Obviously the future looks a lot brighter for longer now because you do have a guy that you really feel good about,” Beaty said. “We’re excited about having him back with us.”
Earlier this season, Beaty was optimistic about Dineen making a return. In fact, just three days after the injury, the coach reported that it “wasn’t as bad as we thought it could have been” while saying Dineen would be “back here in a few weeks.”
The recovery didn’t go as expected. Dineen, who was seen around the Anderson Football Complex on crutches that first week, never was cleared to play. Fellow captain Montell Cozart said every week, doctors would check Dineen’s progress, with the junior attempting to tell them he was fine and ready to go.
“He tried everything he could,” Cozart said.
There were days when Dineen would suit up in full pads at practice, Cozart said, only to have the injury hold him out again. After accepting the reality of his situation in recent days, Dineen has remained around the linebackers at practice to help coach the younger guys.
“It’s a great thing to see,” Cozart said.
This is the second straight year that KU has lost a team captain for the season. In 2015, it was Cozart, who was able to get a medical redshirt after he underwent shoulder surgery.
The quarterback says he’s already talked to Dineen about making the most of his time while not playing. Last year, Cozart was able to watch a couple of KU’s games in the coaches’ box, which allowed him to see things from a different perspective.
“I just told him in the end, it’s a blessing,” Cozart said. “It can work out for him in the future.”
That doesn’t make the present any less frustrating.
Beaty says one of the most difficult parts has been road games. KU can take 70 players because of NCAA rules, and Beaty says each week has been a struggle when he’s had to explain to Dineen that he has to stay in Lawrence so the Jayhawks can bring an additional healthy body.
“Man, he loves this game,” Beaty said. “And it is killing him not to get on that field.”