Remembering Mike Dudek's great moments

Remembering Mike Dudek's great moments

CHAMPAIGN -- There didn't seem to be much concern when Mike Dudek left Illinois' season opener on Saturday late in the Illini's victory. He was still on the sideline, so many assumed it was more precautionary or at worst a minor injury. After all, how could a guy who had already missed 2 1/2 seasons by three different injuries suffer such an injustice again?

So Monday's announcement from Lovie Smith that Dudek's fifth season was indeed over with another knee injury sparked an outpouring of support from fans on social media, and it even had a teammate choked up.

Despite playing just eight games since 2014, Dudek was a face of the Illinois squad and a leader. With speed and a nose for ball that's rare even for receivers, Dudek was set to be a critical piece of the Illini offense in 2018.

In honor of his all-too-brief career, here are audio highlights of Dudek's six career touchdown catches*, and a few other memorable moments.

Dudek's first collegiate touchdown in 2014 opener:

A 13-yard score:

On the road at Iowa, the first of a two touchdown catches:

The first came from Wes Lunt, the second from Reilly O'Toole. Both were 31-yard TDs:

His final TD reception in 2014 ties an Illini freshmen record (David Williams):

After missing two full seasons, Dudek scores the first points of 2017:

Dudek's 52-yard punt return in the 2017 opener set up the game-winning TD:

Dudek's final catch led to the winning score in the 2018 opener:

 

*Dudek's second career touchdown -- statistically credited as a touchdown reception -- was a fumble recovery in the endzone after a catch by teammate Geronimo Allison.

(Audio courtesy Fighting Illini Sports Network, Brian Barnhart play-by-play)