Ricky Smalling

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette

Illinois receiver Ricky Smalling catches a low pass during the first day of Illinois football training camp at Campus Rec Fields in Urbana on Friday, August 2, 2019.

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Illinois football has been without one of its top playmakers for almost a month.

And on Tuesday morning, Illini coach Lovie Smith confirmed Ricky Smalling will miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery last week.

Smalling, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior from Chicago, hasn't played since getting injured on the first play of the game in the eventual 24-23 upset win against then-No. 6 Wisconsin on Oct. 19 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Smalling has 24 catches for 225 yards and one touchdown this season. For his career, he has hauled in 88 receptions for 1,141 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Illini (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) are off this upcoming Saturday and are back in action at 11 a.m. on Nov. 23 at No. 23 Iowa (6-3, 3-3).

Matt Daniels is sports editor at The News-Gazette. His email is mdaniels@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mdaniels_NG).