Harlan: Pitt football recruit putting his best foot forward
There were those who thought Quintin Wirginis should skip basketball season, rest his foot and wait for college football.
He wasn't one of them. His future coaches weren't among them, either.
“Some (people) said: I don't know why you want to play basketball,” said Wirginis, a Fox Chapel senior and Pitt linebacker recruit who's had two surgeries on his right foot to repair the injury he suffered last summer.
“But Pitt's coaches said they'd love to see me compete and said they'll come watch,” he said.
Wirginis, described as a “determined athlete” by his basketball coach, just couldn't sit idle any longer, he said.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder didn't play basketball last winter to focus on football, but then missed his entire senior football season this fall with the Lisfranc injury. Combined, he'd gone about 12 months without a varsity game.
So, with his doctor, physical therapist and future coaches on board, Wirginis was in uniform when Fox Chapel started its basketball season.
The forward has played a key role as a rebounder and strong front-court defender for the Class AAAA Foxes, who are 10-3.
“He has never stopped working,” basketball coach Zach Skrinjar said. “We actually had to scale him back a little bit at the beginning because he was so enthusiastic. He would text me every day saying he was ready, and he still had screws in his foot. He was grabbing the rim in a walking boot.
“He can't just sit.”
But Skrinjar encouraged Wirginis not to be risky.
“I told him from Day One, I respect the position you're in,” Skrinjar said. “If ever you feel like (playing basketball) is putting you in jeopardy, just tell me. He's a special kid who's going to do great things at Pitt.”
Wirginis has the plate, screw and pins that UPMC surgeon Dr. Carl Hasselman used to fix his foot in a jar at home. The injury occurred in seven-on-seven football drills, when he tried to jump for a pass and someone stepped on his foot. His first surgery inserted the hardware. The second removed it.
“Everything has worked as best it could,” said Wirginis, who called his recovery 100 percent. “The physical therapist was surprised there was no swelling or bruising. I healed very well.”
Wirginis chose Pitt before the injury. He called Pitt's coaches the day his foot injury was diagnosed, he said, and they assured him his verbal commitment would be honored. He'll make his official campus visit Jan. 17-19.
“They were very sympathetic,” he said. “They said everything's fine, just get healthy.”
That, he did.