By ZACH HEILPRIN
CHICAGO - A pair of possible contributors on offense for the University of Wisconsin won’t play this season.
UW coach Gary Andersen confirmed on Wednesday that redshirt freshman running back Vonte Jackson and junior wide receiver Marquis Mason suffered knee injuries that will force them to miss the entire 2013 season.
It’s the third time Jackson has torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The first happened in his left knee during his senior year at Kenosha Bradford. He tore the ACL in his right knee last fall and again this summer.
For Mason, a Madison East graduate, it was the second time he tore his ACL, the first coming in the spring of 2011 in his left knee.
“You watch both of those kids battle back and then get knocked back down again,” Andersen told ESPN Wisconsin. “When those kids get in those situations, with a second injury or a third injury, you start to really worry about how they’re going to come back mentally. Is football in the picture? Is it not in the picture? That’s secondary to me. Lets make sure we don’t fall off the table here, school wise. Make a poor decision because it’s woe is me, all the things that come with it.”
update: In a tweet sent Thursday morning, Mason told ESPN Wisconsin's Jim Rutledge: "We both plan on coming back better than before. Taking it one day at a time."
Andersen is very familiar with knee injuries, having dealt with his own when he played center at Utah in the mid-80’s.
“I had three of them when I played,” Andersen said. “Times have changed since then, the way these kids come back. I had a giant cast on my leg for six months…didn’t have a chance to get back on time. Both of my twins (Chasen and Hagen) have each torn their ACL’s. It’s hard. It’s hard to swallow. It’s hard to deal with but we’ve got great doctors. We have great rehab facilities, which you guys all know are as good as anywhere in the country. The kids wrap their arms around it and come back, usually better than ever when they do have those injuries nowadays.”
Meanwhile, Andersen said junior college transfer quarterback Tanner McEvoy – who was assaulted in downtown Madison early Sunday morning – suffered only minor injuries and will be ready to go when fall practice opens up on Aug. 5. He added they expect to get back most, if not all, of the players that missed spring practice due to injury, including linebacker’s Brendan Kelly and Ethan Armstrong.
“Our injury list has shrunk substantially,” Andersen said. “I think (the medical staff) has done a great job, as far as us getting us in position to walk in as healthy as we possibly can. You’re never 100-percent healthy but we’re getting close.”