ShareThis Page
Sports

Coming back for more

Kevin Gorman
| Friday, March 6, 2009

Pitt linebacker Adam Gunn didn't want his college football career to end with a broken neck sustained in the opening game of his senior season this past August.

His wish has been granted.

The NCAA approved Gunn's appeal for a sixth season of eligibility, making it possible for the Vandergrift native and Kiski Area graduate to play for the Panthers this fall, pending medical clearance by team doctors.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Gunn started at strong-side linebacker in 2007, finishing third on the team with 59 tackles. He was injured in a helmet-to-helmet collision with middle linebacker Scott McKillop in the third quarter against Bowling Green Aug. 30 at Heinz Field.

Gunn's father, Ed Gunn, said neither the injury nor the ensuing Sept. 15 surgery -- which fused the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae together with a titanium plate and four screws -- dampened Adam's desire to play football again.

"People who never played don't realize what that game is like," said Ed Gunn, whose older son, Sanford, also suffered a career-ending neck injury at Indiana (Pa.) University. "Physically, I knew he could handle it. Mentally was the thing. Adam verbalized it right away -- he wanted to play again."

Ed Gunn said Adam has been working out since being cleared for conditioning prior to the Panthers playing in the Sun Bowl this past December, preparing for either Pitt's Pro Day or spring drills. Gunn is expected to seek a medical evaluation before practice begins March 19.

"He's right where he's supposed to be," Ed Gunn said. "I think it would be good to err on the side of caution. It would probably be best if he didn't play spring ball. It would give him an extra three months to get ready for the season."

Adam Gunn, who is on track to earn his master's of public administration in December, could give Pitt's linebacker corps a veteran presence at either the strong-side or middle spots. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, however, said the Panthers are making Gunn's health the top priority.

"We are very pleased for Adam that the NCAA has given him an extra year," Wannstedt said in a prepared statement. "The next step is for him to visit with our doctors to see if and when he will be physically ready to begin playing again. We are, first and foremost, concerned with Adam's long-term health."

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.

click me