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Western Michigan CB Eskridge, Northern Illinois MLB Pugh ruled out with season-ending injuries

The two star seniors suffer brutal endings to promising 2019 campaigns.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the MAC’s top veteran defenders were ruled out with season-ending injuries on Tuesday.

D’Wayne Eskridge

Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester announced cornerback/wide receiver hybrid D’Wayne Eskridge is out for the remainder of the year with a broken collarbone, per Nick Buckley of the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Eskridge suffered the injury on the opening drive of a 52-33 loss to Syracuse. The senior, who has transitioned from the Broncos’ No. 1 wide receiver to their cornerback this season, was inserted back in a familiar offensive role to start the afternoon. Quarterback Jon Wassink targeted Eskridge on Western Michigan’s first three plays from scrimmage. On the third one, Eskridge snagged a 43-yard bomb from Wassink but struggled to get off the ground in the aftermath. He was helped off by trainers and never returned to the field.

Eskridge caught three passes for 73 yards to start his senior season. Defensively, he recorded 14 tackles and a team-high four passes defended through four contests. Eskridge arrived in Kalamazoo in 2016 and never took a redshirt. If he elects to remain in college, he is eligible for a medical redshirt this season and can continue playing in 2020.


Kyle Pugh

Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock announced middle linebacker Kyle Pugh will miss the remainder of the 2019 season with a right shoulder injury, per Kaleb Carter of Huskie Wire.

Pugh, a 2018 Second Team All-MAC selection, recorded nine tackles and three tackles for loss in two games this season. Before his season-ending status was announced, he missed the Week 3 loss to Nebraska prior to Northern Illinois’ recent bye week. Pugh underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason after the Boca Raton Bowl after accumulating 106 tackles for the Huskies in 2018.

This marks the second time Pugh has been diagnosed with an early year-ending injury in late September. In 2017, Pugh was putting together an All-MAC campaign with 35 tackles in four games before an arm injury halted his progress in the fourth quarter of a loss to San Diego State.

Pugh was redshirted in 2015 and is in his fourth season playing with the Huskies. In all likelihood, he is eligible for a medical redshirt as he has only played two full (2016, 2018) and two injury-plagued seasons (four games in 2017, two games in 2019). According to Huskie Wire, Hammock said Tuesday that (Pugh) is “already attacking his recovery” and he “look(s) forward to having him back” — hinting toward a likely return for the longtime Huskie linebacker.

Pugh’s replacement at middle linebacker will likely be sophomore Vinny Labus, who has posted five tackles this season, including four at Nebraska when Pugh was sidelined.

Hammock also announced true freshman cornerback Mark Aitken will miss the rest of 2019 at the Tuesday press conference.