Pittman has traveled the long road

College life is hard enough without playing football according to senior defensive end Chase Pittman. Early morning classes and late nights studying all add up sometimes to a mountain of stress. When football is added, things can get "hectic."

There are 105 players on LSU's 2006 football squad that live the collegiate football player's life, but none have gone down the same road as Pittman.


The Minden native was a blue-chip defensive lineman and one of the top recruits in the nation at Evangel Christian Academy before he committed to the University of Texas. Three weeks later, his brother, also a defensive end for the Longhorns, died in an early morning one-car accident near Franklin, Texas, on February 26, 2001.


Cole Pittman was on his way to spring practice in Austin, Texas.


"Every 30 minutes; every 10 minutes; all the time;" Chase said. "You think about what he would be doing, how successful he would be."


The Pittman family tragedy was a national story during Texas' 2001 season, and in 2004 Marc Pittman, Chase and Cole Pittman's father, wrote a book called Raising Cole portraying the life of his eldest son. The book speaks of his remarkable relationship with his children, how he dealt with the tragedy and the lessons he learned over the years about being a good father, a good friend and a good man.


In the spring, production will begin to produce Marc's book into a motion picture with a $20 budget.


Following Cole's death, Chase said he thought continuing with his commitment to play for the Longhorns was the right thing to do. He redshirted his freshman season in 2002, and in 2003, he played in 10 games for Texas, recording 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks.


After the season, Pittman said he found that everything at Texas reminded him of his brother, including his brother's still empty locker just a few feet away. He decided to transfer to LSU soon after, and now his road to the NFL brought him to Baton Rouge.


"I didn't leave because of football. I left for personal reasons," Pittman said. "The football program was great. The coaches were great. I made some great friends."


Texas head coach Mack Brown said everyone at the university was in someway affected by Cole's death, and that he understood Chase's decision to start over somewhere else.  


"We knew when Chase came to Texas it was going to be hard on him," said Brown. "Losing Cole was one of the toughest things that has happened to me in my coaching career.  It was just too hard on him. It's awful to lose a brother, and even tougher to have to be reminded of it."


Now at LSU, Pittman said he is able to concentrate more on football. For a defensive lineman, he said LSU was an easy choice because of its talented roster and aggressive style of play.


He is the lone starter returning from LSU's tenacious defensive line in 2005, and said he is ready for another successful season. The 6-4, 265 pound right end started 12 of 13 games in 2005 with 34 tackles, including seven for a loss and three sacks.


"Chase Pittman was one of our best players last year," said defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. "He represents what is left of a very intimidating front four."


On the defensive line, Pittman will be the leader of the group, whether he likes it or not according to sophomore defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey and other linemen say they look toward Pittman for leadership because he is the most experienced, but Pittman said he would rather lead by example.


"I think I will just go out there and play my game," Pittman said. "The guys that play with me are going to play their game. If we all just work together, we are going to be fine."


Dorsey and Pittman's peers however look across the locker room for him to find leadership and inspiration.

"He's a great leader," Dorsey said. "He's been in the big games. He's been in overtime with Alabama, so when it gets to that time, we can look at him to step it up and show us how to go about practice and the game."

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