No one worked harder and no player meant more to the Pitt football team than senior left guard Chris Jacobson.
That’s why the bad news tonight from coach Todd Graham was especially difficult to accept. Jacobson, a starter since the beginning of 2010, will miss the rest of this season with a left knee injury that will require surgery next week.
Jacobson, who also missed his freshman season of 2007 with a right knee injury, will apply for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.
“Chris Jacobson is one of the most respected people in our program,” Graham said, “and I know every player and coach feels disappointment for him that he’ll miss the rest of the year. Fortunately, we feel optimistic about his chances to receive sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.”
It’s a bad break for a good guy, but Jacobson would be the first to tell you, “That’s football.”
Jacobson and his former Keystone Oaks High School teammate Myles Caragein repeatedly drew praise from Graham for their leadership skills and the professional manner they went about their business.
The younger players followed their lead, and the result is a collection of good people who are a pleasure to be around.
(Side note: I never have been called “sir” more times than when I interview Pitt football players.)
Clearly, they were raised right and received good coaching and guidance from the former and present Pitt coaching staffs.
Here’s wishing the best for Jacobson. Cory King, who will start in Jacobson’s place is 3 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, but he still has huge shoes to fill.
King, actually, would have been starter at guard if Jacobson, who played center in the spring, would have stayed at that position.
Jacobson was moved to guard, his natural position, because Ryan Turnley proved last month that he could handle the center position.
If Jacobson is granted an extra year by the NCAA, Pitt will have four starters returning on its offensive line, including King, Turnley and left tackle Juantez Hollins.
– Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he hasn’t compared Pitt’s talent to the outstanding collection of athletes Graham had at Tulsa last year, but he believes it’s possible for the Panthers to achieve the same results.
Graham won 10, 11 and 10 games in three of his four seasons at Tulsa and upset Kelly’s Fighting Irish last year at Notre Dame Stadium.
“There’s no question that they’ll be able to recruit to the level they did at Tulsa,” Kelly said. “There are plenty of those kind of players that fit in that system.
“It’s just a matter of time before they get the kind of players that they want. I think they have them right now. They’re just obviously new to their system.”
– If Pitt wins today, Graham will be the first coach to defeat Notre Dame in consecutive seasons at two different schools.