Gunn Officially Out For Season

Fifth-year senior strong-side linebacker Adam Gunn recently had surgery to fuse some vertebrae in his neck, and he is out for the season.

There initially was some hope that Gunn would be able to return at some point this year for Pittsburgh, but it appears that his football career is over.

"The vertebrae did crack, and he had surgery about a week or so later, and he's doing fine,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said during his weekly Big East teleconference Monday. "Obviously, he won't play any more. It's unfortunate that this was his senior year, but he will be healthy.

"When all that will take place, I'm not sure. But he's around here all the time, and he's been at all the games on the weekends. So, he's still involved, and he's in here on a daily basis.''

Gunn was injured early in the third quarter during Pitt's opener against Bowling Green when he collided helmet-to-helmet with Panthers senior middle linebacker Scott McKillop. Both players went down, but Gunn was unable to get up without some help. Gunn already has graduated from Pitt with a bachelor's degree in communication and rhetoric and is working toward a master's in public and international affairs.

"The way they're improving equipment these days, it's better than it's ever been before,'' Wannstedt added. "And it's very unfortunate (that these injuries occur). When Adam Gunn got hurt ... he hit helmets with Scott McKillop, and McKillop's helmet cracked and his facemask bent.

"You'd like to think that players aren't hitting any harder than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago, but I don't know. I don't have the answer. ... The players train very hard, but from an equipment standpoint and a protection standpoint it's better than it's ever been.''

McKillop actually is working on his third new facemask through three games this season. A collision during the Iowa game resulted in McKillop's facemask bending and striking his nose. That left him bloodied, bruised and unable to breath through his nose, but it was not caused by a Hawkeyes player doing anything illegal during the game.

"I didn't break my nose, but I've had past troubles and have broken it before,'' McKillop said. "It's pretty messed up after being a wrestler in high school, as well as playing football. So, I know how it feels. You get kind of light-headed.

"And when the facemask came down and hit my nose ... I saw blood coming out pretty fast. I knew it wasn't good. I wanted to get back on the field, so I wanted them to put something up there to stop the bleeding so I could play.''

Those who have broken their nose before know that it can be painful, but McKillop didn't believe he would have had a problem if that had happened.

"My adrenaline was pumping pretty hard, so it probably wouldn't have mattered too much for me,'' McKillop said. "I probably wouldn't even have felt it until (Sunday). It is painful, but you just try not to think about it and get it out of your mind. I wanted to go back into the game and play, so I didn't even think about it until afterward.''

McKillop later joked that he is trying to break former West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt's unofficial record for broken helmets and facemasks. So, it's two down for McKillop with nine regular-season games remaining.

Pitt visits Syracuse Saturday at noon at the Carrier Dome.

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