Dan Mason’s collegiate career took another unfortunate turn Tuesday.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst said Mason, a backup linebacker, will sit out at least the first days of spring drills due to off-the-field issues.
Chryst said there is no timetable for a return to the field, indicating it’s Mason’s responsibility to prove he belongs. Chryst also said backup linebacker Nicholas Grigsby was in a similar situation, but Grigsby resolved his issues and was at practice Tuesday.
Mason missed most of two seasons after tearing up his knee against Miami in 2010. He was demoted to the second team for that game after he was a passenger in a car driven by former teammate Jason Douglas, who was charged with DUI after hitting a pedestrian.
Mason was diligent in his rehab and started two games at middle linebacker last year. He missed the final five, however, after suffering an internal injury while making a tackle in the Temple game.
Mason’s suspension — along with a toe injury — come at an inopportune time for him after starting middle linebacker Shane Gordon was declared out indefinitely with a neck injury. Redshirt freshman linebacker and Woodland Hills graduate Mike Caprara, 6-foot, 200 pounds, will step into the breach.
– Chryst said redshirt junior Arthur Doakes, who was declared out of the BBVA Compass Bowl in January for violating team rules, will be allowed to practice this spring.
“Right now, he is helping us get through practice,” Chryst said.
After that? “Nothing final yet,” he said.
– Redshirt junior Eric Williams is moving from outside linebacker to free safety, but Chryst said it has nothing to do with senior safety Jason Hendricks’ right toe injury.
“(Hendricks) is a guy we were hoping to have ready for spring, but that’s taking a little bit longer,” Chryst said.
Meanwhile, redshirt junior Anthony Gonzalez, who has played Wildcat quarterback, tight end and safety at Pitt, is now an outside linebacker, a position he manned in the bowl game, recording a sack.
Chryst is cautiously optimistic about having good depth at linebacker this season.
“I hope we are saying that at the end of spring ball,” he said. “We have a chance. That will be one of the good stories to follow. That’s the one thing with Shane being out. It does give some other guys a chance to get some work and we can get a feel for them as players.”
– Chryst said there is no deadline for naming a starting quarterback. He did say, “Labor Day,” and he was probably only half-kidding.
“You just want to see Tom (Savage) and Chad (Voytik) grow and be able to see them do stuff well and be able to do that consistently.”
A lingering groin injury from high school will keep freshman Tra Chapman out of the first two days of spring drills. Junior quarterback Tray Anderson is ill and will miss this week.
– Other injuries: Out indefinitely are defensive back Brandon Felder (right foot) and wide receiver Brandon Ifill (left knee). Knee injuries suffered last season will limit the spring activities of defensive back Jahmahl Pardner and offensive lineman John Guy.
Long snapper Pat Quirin (ill) and defensive end Devin Cook (right foot) will miss this week.
– Pitt will practice without pads Thursday, take a week off for spring break and return March 17 for its third of 15 sessions. Pro day is scheduled for Wednesday.