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Pitt notebook: McKillop returns to program as volunteer

| Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 3:30 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Former Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop

Playing football came easier for Scott McKillop than walking away from it.

McKillop, one of the best linebackers in Pitt football history, is returning to the program as a volunteer on coach Paul Chryst's staff after knee injuries led to the end of his professional career.

“The hardest decision a former player has to make is when to hang your cleats up and see what you want to do next,” McKillop said.

After he was released this year by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, he decided to pursue a career in coaching. He said his familiarity with the Pitt program led him there.

“It's definitely something I am looking forward to doing,” said McKillop, a graduate of Kiski Area. “I have to get my feet wet and prove I can do it and work my way up.”

McKillop was an All-America linebacker and Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

Due to NCAA restrictions, he won't be permitted to instruct players on the field, but he will help in other areas.

“He can be a life coach,” Chryst said. “Here's a guy who walked it and did a good job doing it.”

The San Francisco 49ers drafted McKillop in the fifth round in 2009. He spent three years with the 49ers, suffering a knee injury during training camp in 2010. He also was with the Buffalo Bills in 2012.

Injury update

Chryst said senior running back Isaac Bennett is recovering so well from shoulder surgery that trainers must ensure against his premature return to practice.

“Isaac has been pretty good,” Chryst said. “I think (head athletic trainer) Rob (Blanc) was getting nervous because he's ahead (of the rehabilitation schedule). You don't want a guy to do too much too soon.”

Bennett, who rushed for 1,175 yards in his first three seasons, sprained his left shoulder during spring drills and had surgery in April.

“He shouldn't be (ready for the start of training camp), but I think he will be,” Chryst said. “So that means don't do anything stupid with him. He shouldn't really be doing much in camp. We'll see.”

Sophomore running back James Conner, who hurt his knee in the spring, and sophomore offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty, who missed spring drills with a back injury, are “doing everything,” Chryst said. Both should be ready to practice normally in August.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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