Injured Ball State WR Love likely out of football

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Ball State officials said injured receiver Dante Love will probably never play football again. Love was hurt during the second quarter of a game Saturday night at Indiana and underwent a 5-hour operation Sunday for a broken spine and an injury to his spinal cord.

The university had said after the surgery that Love could move his arms and legs.

"Due to the injury Dante sustained, his football career is expected to be over," coach Brady Hoke told reporters during his weekly news conference Monday. "He should have normal and healthy functions for the rest of his life. He touched a lot of lives, and he will continue to do so."

Love entered Saturday's game as the nation's leader in yards receiving per game (144.3), and the fleet 5-foot-10, 179-pound senior was considered an NFL draft prospect.

The injury came in the biggest victory in school history — a 42-20 win over the Hoosiers, Ball State's first victory over a BCS school.

Running back MiQuale Lewis struggled to watch the play on tape. Love had caught a short pass and started to turn up field when Indiana cornerback Chris Adkins walloped him.

Love immediately dropped the ball in front of the Hoosiers bench and went down to the ground. After about 15 minutes, Love was strapped to a backboard and taken off the field on a golf cart, his parents running behind the cart.

"At first, I watched it back-to-back a couple of times," Lewis said. "After that, I just couldn't watch it again."

Losing Love will force Ball State, off to its first 4-0 start since 1988, to make adjustments.

True freshman Briggs Orsbon was listed as Love's replacement on the offensive depth chart Monday, and Hoke said he would have to choose from three players to return kickoffs. Love was the school's career leader in kickoff return yardage with 2,129.

Love, from Cincinnati, also ranks second in school history in receptions (199), yards receiving (2,778) and is tied for fourth in TD receptions (20).

But even as Ball State prepares for this week's Mid-American Conference game against Kent State, Love remains a primary focus.

"The role we want him to play is to get better," Hoke said. "That's what his teammates want, that's what we all want because of the respect we have for him. That will always be there, and he will always be in our thoughts."