02 April 2012
It's been done by just about every Pitt football outlet, but the story of Dan Mason's return to Pitt is nothing short of incredible. After sustaining nerve damage to his leg during an injury against Miami in 2010, it seemed pretty likely that Mason would never play football again.
Mason seems like a pretty humble kid (via the PG):
He said he was crushed when doctors told him his career was likely over. But he wasn't about to accept their opinion without pushing himself to work through the long rehabilitation process.
"Yeah [it is a miracle]," Mason said, "but I couldn't stop rehabbing and everything, trying to get back. God put something in me, I just couldn't [quit], I just had to try. It was working hard and faith. I was doubting right after the injury, but that is the only time I doubted. But, once I just got back into it, got my mindset right, it just started coming back.
"But it isn't me, don't get me wrong, it isn't me," he said, then gave all the credit to God.
Obviously, he's become a bit of rallying cry for his teammates and the coaches, all of whom are looking for positive after a 5-7 season (via):
"I salute Dan Mason, I have fallen in love with the kid, he is tough as nails," said Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable. "When I got here, I was told that we probably wouldn't have him. But I'll tell you what, he is making a lot of non-believers [into] believers. He is working extremely hard, and I pray for that kid every night that he can stay healthy and continue to improve because he loves it, he loves this game.
"I think there is still a little bit of limitation there, but I've never seen his head down or use it as an excuse," Huxtable said. "And I've never seen any body language suggesting it might bother him."
A fantastic story. The story-book aspect of it will be complete if he can beat out sophomore linebacker EJuan Price for the inside linebacker starting spot. Price was Graham's outside rush linebacker, but after a disappointing season, this staff has moved him inside to compete with Mason. Ideally, Mason can play at 100%, win the job, and allow the coaches to redshirt Price. That would put two seasons of distance between the two in 2013 (Mason then a RS senior and Price a RS sophomore).
And just as it appears that the linebacking core is looking like a real unit with depth, here comes the arrests. Carl Flemming probably wasn't going to be a starter, but he did play in 5 games last season, so he has some experience.
Fleming has been suspended indefinitely suspended from the team. As the unlucky winner of "first guy to get in trouble with a new coach," I'd expect Fleming to win an no expense paid trip back to his home of Maryland and dismissal from the team. Sucks, but precedent must be set. That he's not a star player softens the blow a little.