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Ball to miss season with ACL tear

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The 2020 Indiana football preseason begins with an injury. Of course.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 10 Maryland at Indiana Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An ACL injury will sideline trusted senior hybrid linebacker Marcelino Ball for the upcoming season, Indiana coach Tom Allen announced Monday.

It’s a significant loss for the Hoosiers, who were counting on Ball to lead the defense during his fifth year in the program. He’s two years removed from earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition, and is coming off a season where he finished fourth on the team with 47 tackles and 29 solo stops.

The Indiana Daily Student was first to report Ball’s injury.

With Ball unavailable, Indiana appears to have a few options to fill the position. At first glance, Bryant Fitzgerald appears to be the natural replacement for Ball. The 6-foot, redshirt junior moved from safety to the hybrid spot during spring practice after recording 27 tackles, three breakups and one hurry in 13 games, including five starts, at free safety in 2019.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Indiana v Ball State
Indiana’s Bryant Fitzgerald warms up before IU’s game against Ball State on Aug. 31, 2019 in Indianapolis.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another option could be sophomore D.K. Bonhomme, who played primarily on special teams as a true freshman last fall. Allen said the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bonhomme will now move from linebacker to the hybrid position to add depth. Safety Jamar Johnson has also seen time at hybrid in the past.

Ball’s recovery will be worth monitoring — and he might not be done with his IU career just yet. He received a medical redshirt in 2017 and could petition for a sixth year of eligibility next fall if he wants it.