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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah's Jacoby Hale and teammate Justin Thomas bring down Oregon's Byron Marshall as Utah and Oregon play Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Eugene.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah senior linebacker Jacoby Hale suffered an ACL tear in his right knee Thursday and will require surgery.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s his senior year,” Whittingham said. “It’s not out of the question he could get rehabbed and get back at some point early or mid-season if everything goes well. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

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Hale, who entered the week atop the depth chart at stud linebacker, made 37 tackles in nine games last season — making 10 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks and three pass breakups.

“It just breaks your heart,” said Whittingham, who noted that it’s the worst part of the game when injuries like this happen.

Whittingham said he has seen players come back from similar injuries as fast as four months, but explained that is absolutely pushing the envelope as far as your can push it. The typical recovery period, he added, is seven months.

“So my guess is it’ll be somewhere in between,” Whittingham said.

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