Sources told The Daily News that senior defensive end Tyrone Ezell, who committed to Pittsburgh Aug. 9, shortly after camp began, reportedly suffered torn ligaments in his ankle during a game against Keystone Oaks this past Friday night.
Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo would not confirm the situation, but he was not optimistic.
"It's not been a good day,'' Braszo told The Daily News.
Ezell apparently was injured early in the 20-7 loss to Keystone Oaks, but he remained in the game. Ezell likely sustained further damage to the ankle later in the contest since he never exited the game. The 6-foot-4, 248-pound defensive end is scheduled to have an MRI later Wednesday.
"I really don't know exactly what is going on yet, and we're just hoping for the best,'' Braszo said. "He's obviously a very special player, and it would hurt to lose him. He's a great player, and he happens to play a position where we really can't afford to lose anyone.''
The defending Century Conference champion, Steel Valley (3-3 overall, 3-3 in the CC) is fighting for its playoff life after narrow losses to Sto-Rox and Quaker Valley. The Ironmen end the season with games against Seton-LaSalle, South Fayette and South Park. They almost certainly need to win out to make the postseason.
"We're in a battle, and we'd like to have Tyrone out there,'' Braszo said. "We just don't know right now.''
Ezell, who actually is a Chicago native, exploded onto the scene in the WPIAL in 2006. As a sophomore, he dominated the opposition to lead Steel Valley to a playoff berth in Braszo's first season.
Ezell's performance improved in 2007, and he started to be recruited heavily by Colorado, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, Wisconsin, Virginia, Illinois, Rutgers, Maryland, Connecticut, along with the Panthers. His top four were Pitt, Ohio State, PSU and Colorado, but the Panthers basically beat out the Buckeyes for his commitment.
Many national scouting services, including Scout.com, project Ezell as a high-impact defensive lineman who will be capable of playing end or tackle in college. He has the size, speed and athleticism to be an effective pass-rusher and solid run-stopper.
This is a portion of ESPN's scouting report of Ezell: "He is a big kid in a good way. He looks to be about 250 pounds of muscle and should be able to add more bulk. He can be a stout force versus the run. Needs to keep fine-tuning his game but can be a very good defensive tackle in college.''
After the injury, the next time Ezell plays football could be in college.
"I hope that isn't the case,'' Braszo said. "I hope this doesn't hurt his future, because this is a kid that has a very, very bright future. And he's a great kid. I'm just hoping it's not too bad. But right now, we just don't know.''
At the very least, though, Ezell's immediate future is in doubt.
Tyrone Ezell Injured
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