CHAMPAIGN — Henry Dickinson's bid to be an Illinois starting linebacker will have to wait until 2013.
During a scrimmage last week, the Memphis product suffered a broken leg and ankle. He will sit out 2012 as a redshirt and return to the field next season.
"It was an unfortunate thing," Illinois coach Tim Beckman said.
Dickinson had been battling with Houston Bates for the starting linebacker spot opposite Jonathan Brown.
In 2011 as a freshman, Dickinson played in 11 games, recording eight tackles. He entered the spring as a backup to Bates, but was in contention for a starting spot.
"He was doing a great job," Beckman said. "Henry will bounce back because Henry's a great person, a great kid and a great football player."
With Dickinson lost for the season, the Illini will rely more on sophomore Ralph Cooper, redshirt freshman Zeph Grimes and first-year freshmen Mason Monheim, T.J. Neal and Mike Svetina.
"Those freshman will play this year," Beckman said.
Brown, the team's leading returning tackler, said the linebackers will miss Dickinson.
"It's a great loss," Brown said. "He was going to step up and have a good year this year. But I feel like we've got the depth."
Brown and Dickinson are both from Memphis, part of the Southern Connection at linebacker that includes Cooper (South Carolina) and Bates (Louisiana).
"It's never good to see a teammate go down," Brown said. "Me and Henry are real close friends. We're from the same place. When he went down, I felt it for him. That guys plays with a lot of passion. Being out for the whole year, I know that's got to be bad."