University at Buffalo punter Evan Finegan had surgery to repair a broken right leg on Sunday, and Bulls coach Lance Leipold said Monday that Finegan plans to return to UB on Tuesday.
“Our team is very concerned for him,” Leipold said Monday on the Mid-American-Conference football coaches media conference call. “He’s a great teammate and an outstanding young man.
“That’s a huge blow, losing him, but as he told me, he knows it’s a long recovery but he’s ready to attack it.”
Finegan, a redshirt sophomore from Sterling Heights, Mich., posted just before 4 a.m. Sunday on Twitter that he had broken the tibia and fibula in UB’s 45-13 loss Saturday at No. 15 Penn State. About 2½ hours later, he posted that he had spent the night in a State College, Pa., hospital and was scheduled to undergo surgery Sunday.
"I have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support from family, friends, and college football fans all across the country! Your texts have been keeping me positive and encouraged," Finegan wrote Sunday morning on his Twitter account.
"I ask you to keep me in your prayers as I receive surgery on my broken fibula and tibia today," he wrote in a subsequent tweet. "The medical staff from Penn State and UB have done an incredible job taking care of me. I am fortunate to be in such great hands.”
Finegan sustained the injury with less than five minutes left in third quarter of UB’s 45-13 loss Saturday at No. 15 Penn State, when Penn State’s Journey Brown attempted to block the punt and collided with Finegan after he punted the ball away from the UB 11 on fourth-and-13 from the Bulls 22.
Brown's hit upended Finegan, whose leg appeared to crumple as he tumbled to the ground. Finegan was taken off the field on a cart, with his right leg in an air cast.
The injury was so severe that Fox Sports did not replay footage of the play or of the injury, but several videos of the injury continued to circulate online, including one that Finegan included in a response early Sunday morning to a user that wrote “Did this punter just break his leg?”
“Sadly,” Finegan wrote.
Finegan’s injury prompted an outpouring of support on social media, in the hours after his posts regarding the nature of his injury and scheduled surgery, and Penn State coach James Franklin opened his post-game news conference by mentioning Finegan.
“Before I get into anything else, obviously want to make sure that our thoughts are on their punter, Evan Finegan,” Franklin said Saturday. “You never like to see that on either side of the ball for either team. Anything that we can do to help support them while they are in town, we want to make sure that we do that, but our thoughts are with him.”
Leipold said Kyle Vantrease will be UB’s punter in Finegan’s absence. Vantrease, who is UB’s No. 2 quarterback, punted twice for 51 yards in the loss Saturday at Penn State. Vantrease also was a punter and kicker at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Ohio. As a senior, he averaged 39 yards a punt and was 18 of 19 on extra-point attempts.
UB (1-1) plays at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liberty (0-2) in Lynchburg, Va.
Jackson Baltar, a true freshman who handles kickoffs for the Bulls, is the only other punter listed on UB’s roster.
Note: The Sept. 21 game against Temple at UB Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and will air on ESPNU.