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Clayton Thorson suffered torn ACL in right knee, per MRI

Terrible news for Northwestern’s quarterback.

NCAA Football: Music Bowl-Kentucky vs Northwestern Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

We feared the worst when Clayton Thorson was carted off the field after suffering a gruesome right leg injury on a trick play that went for 24 yards. An MRI confirmed that Thorson suffered an ACL tear in his right knee, the team announced Tuesday.

In the game itself, X-Rays came back negative on Thorson’s knee, allowing him to avoid a hospital trip and return to the Northwestern sideline for the second half of the Music City Bowl. Thorson watched on crutches as his backup Matt Alviti put together a gutsy performance in the 24-23 win. However, the MRI showed that Thorson tore his ACL, which is devastating news for Thorson and the Northwestern football program.

The timetable for Thorson, a redshirt junior, to return could be lengthy. For example, fellow quarterback Deshaun Watson’s recovery from an ACL tear is expected to last eight-to-nine months. While recovery time from ACL injuries has shortened in recent years, Thorson might have to take a medical redshirt year. Hopefully, everything goes well with the surgery and rehab and he can come back soon.

After a pedestrian freshman season, Thorson has put in two solid seasons of work as Northwestern’s signal caller. He threw 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2017, but also scored 8 rushing TDs and completed 60.4 percent of his passes.

Northwestern starts the 2018 season against Purdue on August 30. Hopefully Thorson can make a quick recovery, but his status for the first part of the season will be in doubt. Thorson’s backup for this year, Matt Alviti, is graduating. That leaves guys like T.J. Green, Aidan Smith and Andrew Marty to compete for the job next year.