Pitt's Gunn Blasts Penguins

It's been a long year of uncertainty for middle linebacker Adam Gunn, but the sixth-year senior put all the troubles behind him when he stepped onto Heinz Field for the Panthers' opener against Youngstown State Saturday.

Adam Gunn was a Pittsburgh game captain against the Penguins.

"It was was great,'' Gunn said. "First game back for me in what, a year? It was great to be out there, especially to be a captain and lead the team.''

Gunn took his leadership role seriously, topping the Pitt defense with eight tackles and two sacks in a 38-3 win.

"He did a lot of things today,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He was a contain guy. He had a really good day. Adam played well.''

Though football is a sport where injuries can wreak havoc on a player's career, Gunn's return to Heinz Field in a Pitt uniform was a welcome sight to his teammates.

"Looked like he was giving a phenomenal effort on plays,'' nose tackle Gus Mustakas said. Mustakas knows first hand how much injuries can derail a career, as he has had two knee surgeries and missed a season due to one.

"(Adam) made some big plays,'' Mustakas added. "It's hard to lose Scott McKillop, but if Adam wants to step up like that it's all right.''

Things looked bleak on a number of fronts in early September, 2008. Gunn underwent surgery to fuse vertebra in his neck after a collision in the opener against Bowling Green. Gunn was lucky to be walking.

"It was great to be back out there,'' Gunn said. "I wasn't sure if I would play football again, so I'm satisfied with how the game went. After a while, I forgot that I ever broke my neck.''

Gunn should be more than satisfied. His two sacks were huge. On a second-and-10 play midway through the second quarter, YSU quarterback Brandon Summers took a five-step drop, but rolled right a bit. Gunn shot through the gap and dropped him for a six-yard loss.

Gunn also sacked Summers in the second half, while the Panthers were struggling to get going again on offense. His defensive play, an eight-yard sack, was critical to get the ball back for Pitt. And for Gunn to get his football career back on track.

"There's been a lot of ups and downs,'' Gunn said, "but in the end and through them all, you become a better person and a stronger individual. That's where I am right now. I'm a stronger individual because of everything that happened to me.''

Currently, Gunn is working on his second degree, a master's in public and international affairs. His bachelor's degree is in communication and rhetoric.

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