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Duke football center Jack Wohlabaugh out indefinitely following ankle surgery

Jack Wohlabaugh may be out for the remainder of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery on his left ankle.
Jack Wohlabaugh may be out for the remainder of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery on his left ankle.

Duke's offense has struggled in recent weeks, having not crossed the 20-point barrier in exactly one month and posting only seven points against No. 15 Notre Dame last Saturday.

Now, that offense will lose one of its top players.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe announced in his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon that center Jack Wohlabaugh underwent ankle surgery earlier that morning and will be out for the coming weeks.

"Wohlabaugh had surgery this morning and will be out," Cutcliffe said. "The young man has been a warrior. He has fought to stay in...but it was time and it was the right thing to do."

The redshirt junior has battled to stay on the field over the past couple games, but Cutcliffe said an aggravation this past weekend combined with another look from the team doctors convinced everyone it was time for a procedure.

"He got rolled up on in the last game and he’s been braced, he’s been limited. We’ve held him out a lot of the practices," Cutcliffe said. "When you reach a point where the doctor says, 'this doesn’t look good'.... I think we had to sedate him to get him to agree to surgery. I’m dead serious."

Wohlabaugh was recruited to Ohio State as the No. 4 center in the Class of 2016 according to Scout.com. The Akron, Ohio, native spent his first two seasons with the Buckeyes without appearing in a single game, transferring to Duke prior to the 2018 campaign.

In Durham, Wohlabaugh has proven to be one of the team's most important offensive pieces. He started nine games as a redshirt sophomore last year and entered this season as a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's top center. Following the Blue Devils' 45-10 win over Virginia Tech, Wohlabaugh was selected as the ACC offensive lineman of the week.

Will Taylor will serve as the team's replacement at the starting center position for the time being, with Zach Baker and Liam Smith in the mix as well.

Cutcliffe also opened up the press conference mentioning the ACC's lack of policy regarding team injuries, explaining why he decided to be transparent about Wohlabaugh's recent developments anyway.

"We do not have a conference policy on injuries," Cutcliffe said. "I know you all ask me all the time about injuries. I don’t like that we don’t have a policy. I don’t understand that in fairness to everyone, whether it be team to team [or] to the media. I was for what we did before. I don’t think it should be a coaches vote—I think this is bigger than the coaches. But with that said, I’m going to tell you because I think it’s fair and right."

No matter what kind of policy the ACC should or should not implement regarding injuries, Duke will certainly miss Wohlabaugh as it prepares to take on Syracuse this Saturday.

"I spoke with him last night and what an incredible young man," Cutcliffe said. I [haven’t] seen him yet since the surgery but I told him last night, ‘I am thankful every day that you became a part of this program.’"

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