Pitt can survive Greg Romeus' tough break

Greg Romeus' college career has come to a sad end.

The Pittsburgh senior defensive end won't play again for the Panthers after sustaining a torn ACL in his right knee during Thursday's game at Connecticut. The 2009 Big East co-defensive player of the year had just returned from back surgery that shelved him most of the year. He ends the year with just seven tackles.

I feel really bad for Romeus, a talented player who probably has seen his NFL draft stock plummet with all the injuries this year. He came back for his senior campaign with an eye on moving into the first round but will now just have to prove he's healthy. You wonder if returning from back surgery and starting against UConn was a bad idea; he was not effective at all in that loss. But we'll never know if the knee injury would have happened anyway.

But for Pittsburgh, this isn't nearly as big of a setback as it seemed when Romeus first went out in September. That's because the defensive end position has been a major strength for the team all season.

Jabaal Sheard, the senior who played the end spot opposite Romeus, has had an All-American type season and likely will win Big East defensive player of the year honors in 2010 if he keeps it up. Meanwhile, Romeus' replacement, Brandon Lindsey, has been better than anyone could have expected. Lindsey is tied with Sheard for the Big East lead in sacks with nine, and he leads the league with 13 tackles for loss. Romeus had only eight sacks and 11.5 TFLs last year.

Lindsey isn't as physically intimidating as Romeus, nor is he the run-stopper that Romeus is. But with younger players like T.J. Clemmings and Bryan Murphy being worked into the mix, Pitt is well stocked at the defensive end position. If the Panthers don't win the Big East title, it won't be because of the loss of Romeus.

For his sake, though, I wish Romeus' career had a better ending.