The Rams lost more than just a football game Saturday, as senior tight end Kory Sperry tore his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.
Sperry, considered to be one of the top prospects in the Mountain West Conference, suffered the ACL tear after an awkward hit in the second quarter of the Rams’ 34-28 loss to Cal.
The senior from Pueblo will most likely receive a medical redshirt for this season and could play for the Rams next year.
The blow comes almost exactly one year after running back Kyle Bell lost his season to the same injury.
“When I found that out, I was heartbroken,” said senior quarterback Caleb Hanie. “He’s a great leader of our team, a great player to play with and a good friend.”
Sperry will undergo an MRI early this week to determine the extent of the damage to his knee. Even without the MRI, coach Sonny Lubick said that Sperry is out for the season.
“It’s not good,” Lubick said. “He gave a nice talk at halftime and he’s a good kid, but that hurt us.”
Senior wide receiver Johnny Walker said that the loss of Sperry will put extra pressure on the offense to perform.
“It puts pressure on the whole team. Kory is an excellent player and teams definitely had to game plan for him because he is such an athlete,” Walker said. “Not having Kory around just means that the receivers and the whole team are going to have to step up.”
Last week Sperry caught three touchdown passes against CU, earning him national recognition as the John Mackey Tight End of the Week. He had two catches for 16 yards before his injury Saturday.
Sperry, who saw playing time as a true freshman, is eligible for a medical redshirt this season because he has played in only two games.
The Rams have two players under Sperry on the depth chart: true freshman Eric Peitz and junior Chris Kawulok. Redshirt freshman Adam Seymore could also see more time with Sperry out.
Coach Lubick indicated after the game that Peitz would be first in line to replace Sperry.
With this week’s bye, the team will have 14 days to get ready for its first road game versus Houston on Sept. 22.
“We lose a guy like Kory who’s a major part of it, we’ve got to get the freshman (Peitz) ready to go,” Lubick said. “Other teams play with freshmen, and this kid is a good player.”
Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org