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The Iowa defense suffered a sizable setback in Thursday's football practice. A torn ACL has sidelined starting safety Brandon Snyder, the university announced Friday.

The news broke less than an hour before the Hawkeyes were expected to take the field at Valley Stadium for their annual spring practice in West Des Moines.

Snyder was the Hawkeyes' third-leading tackler last season with 85 stops. He led the team with three forced fumbles in 2016 and also tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and fumble recoveries (two) in his first season as a starting free safety.

Although the university merely said Snyder would be out indefinitely, it's hard to envision a scenario in which the junior could return during the 2017 regular season. Recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL usually starts at six months.

The injury leaves a hole in Iowa's defensive backfield. Junior Jake Gervase, a walk-on, is listed as Snyder's replacement. Sophomore Amani Hooker could also be an option; he is the backup to starting strong safety Miles Taylor.

The university also announced that wide receiver Jerminic Smith has been pulled from football by coach Kirk Ferentz to concentrate on academics. That departure leaves only available two scholarship wideouts this spring: junior Adrian Falconer and sophomore Devonte Young, neither of whom have a career catch. Senior Matt VandeBerg is out for the spring with a foot injury.

Also injured and sidelined from Friday's practice were defensive linemen Nathan Bazata and Matt Nelson and linebacker Barrington Wade.