ALBANY — Junior running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks is no longer “out indefinitely.”
Now, he’s just out.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, University at Albany football head coach Greg Gattuso said Ibitokun-Hanks will miss the remainder of the 2017 season and apply for a medical hardship waiver after the campaign.
“The health of our student-athletes is always of the utmost importance,” Gattuso said. “Elijah has worked extremely hard to get back on the field, but right now it’s in his best interest to focus on his recovery. He’s an extremely valuable member of our program, and we’ll look forward to getting him back next season.”
If the NCAA were to grant Ibitokun-Hanks a medical hardship waiver, he’d have two more years of eligibility.
Ibitokun-Hanks tore his left ACL during the Great Danes’ 2016 finale, but had expected to return at full health for the start of the 2017 season. In mid-August, though, the junior suffered a non-contact injury to the same knee.
Ibitokun-Hanks missed UAlbany’s first two games of the season, played in the Great Danes’ win against Monmouth and then missed UAlbany’s next three games. The junior rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against Monmouth.
Ibitokun-Hanks did practice last week, but with UAlbany’s scout team.
Before tearing the ACL in his left knee in UAlbany’s final game last season, Ibitokun-Hanks rushed for 1,388 yards and 16 touchdowns. Those totals each ranked seventh in the country, as Ibitokun-Hanks helped the Great Danes to a 7-4 campaign.
Despite his 2016 season ending in injury, Ibitokun-Hanks piled up preseason accolades leading into the 2017 season. Ibitokun-Hanks was one of three Great Danes to earn preseason All-CAA honors, one of two UAlbany players to be named a STATS FCS Preseason All-American and has been named to multiple player-of-the-year watch lists.
Ibitokun-Hanks is expected to address media members Wednesday after UAlbany’s practice.
The Great Danes, who are 3-3, are on their bye week.