CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois junior running back Mike Epstein will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, head coach Lovie Smith announced Monday. 

Epstein led Illinois in rushing on Saturday (45 yards) against Akron before leaving the game with the injury.

"Mike Epstein went down with a season-ending injury," said Lovie Smith. "He's been through so much. As is the case with Marquez Beason, these are guys that will come back as strong as ever."

Epstein posted a message on his Twitter account about his road to recovery. 

Epstein has played 13 games for Illinois over three seasons. He has total 947 yards, including 802 on the ground and scored seven touchdowns. 

Epstein led Illinois in rushing yards (346) and yards per carry (6.1) as a true freshman in 2017 and tied for the team lead in touchdowns (4).

He became the fifth true freshman in Illinois program history to lead the team in rushing yards. 

The Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, native was a three-star recruit out of national power St. Thomas Aquinas. He was a top-100 running back in the nation and the 2016 Sun Sentinel All-Broward Football Player of the Year.

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