Eastern Michigan quarterback Andy Schmitt out for the season
No one had higher hopes for Eastern Michigan this season than quarterback Andy Schmitt. But plans to turn the Eagles' program around will go on without its offensive captain.
Schmitt suffered a season-ending knee injury after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament Saturday in a 45-17 loss at Michigan, the school announced Tuesday morning.
The injury, confirmed in an MRI, will require surgery.
"It's crazy to have something you love so much taken away so fast," Schmitt said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "(Suffering) a knee injury has always been my biggest fear. I always feel horrible when I see somebody go down with a knee injury.
"Now it has happened to me."
Schmitt's right knee buckled in the fourth quarter, causing him to fumble near mid-field. Schmitt, who said immediately after the game that he didn't think the injury was anything "terrible," said the initial injury took place on Eastern Michigan's previous offensive series.
Schmitt said he was injured after rolling out on a quarterback keeper as Eastern Michigan was driving toward the end zone. He believes his knee was injured after he planted his foot before being hit by a Michigan defender.
Schmitt, who has never had a knee injury before, said felt something in his knee, but thought he'd be OK to play on it. On Eastern's next series, his knee buckled and the veteran quarterback dropped to the ground, losing the ball.
"It was pretty scary," he said. "There was so much going through my head and I just kept thinking, 'This could be it.'"
Schmitt said he didn't experience a lot of pain and was holding out hope before he met with Eastern Michigan's team doctor Sunday. Surgery hasn't yet been scheduled as Schmitt waits for the swelling in his knee to go down. Schmitt said he hasn't been told what kind of timeline he's looking at while trying to make a return for a possible shot at the NFL.
"I don't think it has quite registered yet," he said. "I just keep hoping this is a dream, but you wake up and that brace is still on your knee."
Schmitt threw for 97 yards on 13-of-22 passing against the Wolverines and ran for 26 yards.
The Eagles (0-3) have a bye week this week and host Temple on Oct. 3. First-year coach Ron English has yet to say who will become Eastern Michigan's starting quarterback.
Freshman Alex Gillett finished the Michigan game, completing two of four passes for 9 yards and running for 36 yards on six carries.
Kyle McMahon, a junior, could also be moved into the starting role. He threw for 574 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. He missed the final seven games of last season with a shoulder injury.
"It is always disappointing news when you lose a player to injury," English said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "Andy Schmitt is and will continue to be a great leader and tremendous part of what we are doing offensively.”
Schmitt finishes his Eastern Michigan career ranked second on the school's all-time list for career completions (607) and total offensive plays (1,210). He ranks third in career pass attempts (966) and passing yards (5,867). His 33 career touchdown passes rank fourth.
Schmitt is Eastern's most experienced quarterback in running a new Pro-Style offense that was installed this year. He said he will continue to help Gillett and McMahon any way he can, hoping Eastern can find a way to win as it begins its Mid-American Conference slate next week.
"I know I'm not going to be the guy on the field helping this team, but we still have two quarterbacks that are ready to play," Schmitt said. "This is still my senior year and I want to see us win a (MAC) championship."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org