Pitt LB Thomas coming back from two ACL tears
His name appears at the bottom of a list of 15 Pitt players who recorded tackles against Syracuse.
It was an assist, actually, but for Todd Thomas it was akin to stopping a freight train when he helped teammate K'Waun Williams run Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib out of bounds after a 4-yard gain in the second quarter.
If you weren't watching closely, maybe you didn't even notice the play. It was so important to Thomas that he became a little emotional.
“It felt good to hit somebody,” said Thomas, who returned Friday night after recovering from the second ACL tear of his left knee. “I was almost in tears going out there because it had been so long.”
Thomas made the ultimate sacrifice last year, postponing knee surgery until January so he could finish the season.
“I said, ‘I'm going to play through it. I'm going to play through the pain,' ” he said. “I knew it was going to hurt me going into this season, but I didn't care.' ”
Thomas, who started six games at outside linebacker last season, showed up for the first day of training camp in August and went through drills with his teammates before they put on the pads. After that, he wisely — if reluctantly — sat down and kept working with trainers to get the knee strong again.
“I was in (the trainers' room) whining every day,” he said. “They were, like, ‘You are getting on my nerves.' ”
Thomas wanted to return earlier, but a conversation with his mother changed his mind. “She said, ‘You have three more years of football,' ” Thomas said. “ ‘If you want to reach your goal, you are going to sit your butt down.' ”
Sitting was nearly as difficult as fighting off the advances of a 300-pound offensive tackle.
“Some people, when they tear their ACL twice, they just give up,” he said. “They don't fight. I love this game. This is what I know. This is what I do.”
The next step for Thomas is to get more playing time, possibly as soon as Saturday against Louisville at Heinz Field.
Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable is eager to unleash Thomas' mix of size and strength.
“I don't know where he is at (in his recovery), 100 percent, 98 percent, but he's moving around a lot better,” Huxtable said. “Just his quickness and his strength and his toughness on the field are going to bring a lot to our defense.”
That may include schemes no one has seen from Pitt's defense this season.
“He's a guy we want to try to do some things with,” Huxtable said. “We were trying to do that a little last week, maybe a little bit more this week.”
Thomas said he is about 95 percent recovered. The mental part is all that's left to conquer.
“After a while, I said, ‘OK, it's in God's hands,' ” he said. “If (an aggravation) happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm just going to go play.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt O-line responds to coach’s challenge
- Former Steelers assistant Archer returns to Heinz Field with Virginia
- Same cast, improved results for Pitt defense
- Pitt football team staying humble amid 3-1 start
- Pitt freshman RB Hall out against Virginia Tech
- Pitt notebook: Panthers keeping many players involved
- Hurricane Joaquin could impact Pitt-Va. Tech game
- Pitt women’s soccer makes history; West Virginia doesn’t want to repeat it
- Pitt notebook: Backup QB Peterman to relieve Voytik again
- Pitt holds off Virginia Tech in ACC opener