- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Northern Illinois linebacker Devon Butler has been released from the hospital after being critically injured in a drive-by shooting earlier this month.
Coach Dave Doeren told Shaw Suburban Media that Butler has a long road of rehab ahead of him.
“Our plans are to not have him [next season] because that’s the worst-case scenario,” Doeren said. “Nobody’s focusing on football with him right now. Two weeks ago, we didn’t know if he was going to live. The big thing for him right now is not rushing him.”
Butler was shot in the upper back on April 5 while he visited a friend's apartment. Police have said Butler was an innocent bystander. It appears the shooting was the result of a drug deal gone bad. Two suspects have been charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. They remain jailed on $1 million bonds.
Doeren said Butler will temporarily stay with linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz until he can be on his own. Though there is no way of knowing whether Butler will be able to play again, Doeren said the player has been an inspiration to his teammates.
“His story is a motivation for our players,” Doeren said. “Just what he’s been through, and how much he loves football. I got to think just being able to be himself again around his guys, around his coaches, around the people he loves outside of football is going to be great for him.”