The tumultuous senior season for Greg Romeus continued Monday when it was announced by head coach Dave Wannstedt that Romeus would miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL suffered in the loss to UConn on Thursday night.
Romeus had battled back from a back injury suffered early in training camp. He had surgery on September 16. He had been rehabbing since the surgery, and even went through a full week of practice heading into the UConn game with no problem, other than just getting back into game shape. He sustained the knee injury in the second half.
"It was a non-contact injury, rushing the passer," Wannstedt said. "He stopped, tried to come up under the guy, and he twisted his knee. It's something he has done plenty of times."
Instead of enjoying the luxury of having Romeus back, alongside productive years out of Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey, Romeus is forced to sit out with injury again. When Romeus went down before, the question was whether or not Brandon Lindsey was able to step up and fill these shoes. That question has been answered. Production is not a problem. Lindsey is tied with Sheard for the team lead with nine sacks, and leads the team with 13 tackles for losses. He is firmly capable of playing the position and making an impact.
The problem now resides with how this Pitt team will react after losing Romeus--a player well-liked and respected--a second time, and this time for the season. On top of that, the team has to regroup following a disappointing loss on Thursday night. The toughest task resides with the seniors--players who came in as freshmen with Romeus and have to finish their Pitt careers without him, while being strong for the rest of the team. Safety Dom DeCicco was looking forward to watching the recent Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight on Saturday night. Instead of getting a chance to watch a boxing match with his teammates, and maybe get his mind away from football, Romeus told DeCicco the bad news.
"We went over there to watch the boxing match at his house," DeCicco said. "He told us (about the torn ACL). You just wanted to cry for everything he's been through; his mom, his back, his knee. You know the type of person Greg is, and that it's all going to work out for him in the end. He works too hard to let it stop him now."
Then there's left tackle Jason Pinkston--Romeus' roommate and opponent in practice every day for virtually their entire careers. Pinkston admitted that not even seeing Romeus at practice this season has been a big blow, because of the type of personality he is.
"It hurts not to see him (at practice)," Pinkston said. "I was so excited just to see him in the uniform (at UConn) to do the things he can, because he can help us. Not having him in the lineup, or on the practice field was hurting for awhile."
Pinkston and DeCicco, along with Sheard--as captains--are all hit hard by the loss of Romeus for various reasons. In addition to being fellow seniors, they all have their own personal ties to Romeus whether it's watching a boxing match, lining up against him in practice every day for five years, or being the other bookend at defensive end. At the same time, facing a big game with South Florida this Saturday, and coming off a loss at UConn where the team was flat in several facets, the team has to get over the loss of Romeus one more time. Pinkston has a creed that the rest of his teammates can follow.
"I play to honor for him because he can't be out there," Pinkston said. "This is it. I have three games left. I have to play hard because you don't know when your last play is going to happen. Coach says we have three captains, but Greg's our leader. He's one of our captains. He's one of my best friends. That hurts not to see him out there."
Dave Wannstedt comments on Greg Romeus: