| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Finally back on the field, Pitt's Mason isn't satisfied

ACC Videos

Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Pitt linebacker Dan Mason during camp on the South Side Aug. 2012.
Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Dan Mason listened to the question but responded with a quizzical look, as if thinking, “Why would you ask me that?”

The query centered on any soreness Mason might have felt after he did something many medical professionals thought impossible: He played football on his severely injured right knee.

Finally, Mason served up the answer with defiant pride.

“No soreness at all,” he said. “I feel 100 percent.”

Mason, a redshirt junior from Penn Hills, took a memorable step in his recovery Saturday, entering Pitt's victory against Gardner-Webb in the fourth quarter.

“It felt good,” he said. “It felt real good.”

The game was Mason's first since he suffered the injury — as Pitt's top middle linebacker — on Sept. 23, 2010, at Heinz Field. He was injured while in third-down pass coverage, stopping Miami's LaRon Byrd short of a first down.

Mason's right leg stuck in the turf, and he suffered a dislocated knee, tears to the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and damage to the peroneal nerve. Pitt trainer Rob Blanc said it was one of the worst injuries he has seen in 25 years at the school.

“I was worried that he was never going to walk again,” Blanc said.

Mason has done more than that — much of it in the weight room when no one was watching. Blanc said Mason never complained during long hours of rehabilitation.

“I'm happy for him,” coach Paul Chryst said. “He's a good story.”

Mason has been practicing nearly every day, even while falling to third on the depth chart behind starter Shane Gordon and Joe Trebitz.

“They got two good linebackers in there. I just have to outwork them,” said Mason, who started five games as a freshman and sophomore in 2009 and '10 before getting hurt. “They are doing their job. I have to do mine.”

A four-star recruit rated the No. 8 high school middle linebacker of 2009 by, Mason said merely playing a few snaps in a blowout is not enough.

“It was an accomplishment. It was a step,” he said. “But it's not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to be out there doing what I used to do: starting and playing a full game. I'm not giving up this fight.”

Mason said he has received plenty of support from teammates, especially when his return looked improbable.

“There have been days I was down on myself, and they told me to keep my head up, keep working,” Mason said.

When Mason's name finally was called, his friends celebrated with him.

Said Gordon: “I think I was more excited about (his return) than he was.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at or 412-320-7997.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pitt

  1. Pitt’s potent rushing attack could slow down the passing game
  2. Root Sports prepares for Pitt/WVU telecast overlap
  3. Pitt notebook: Average yards allowed good, but there’s room for improvement
  4. Pitt notebook: Receiving depth up in the air
  5. Pitt notebook: Boyd has breakout performance in loss
  6. Pitt meets Iowa’s muscle
  7. Nothing fancy for Iowa coach Ferentz
  8. Pitt star running back Conner adjusting to higher profile this year
  9. Pitt football coach Chryst refutes analyst Wannstedt’s opinion
  10. Pitt rallies to defeat Florida International, stay undefeated
  11. Pitt’s secondary has room for improvement
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.