Jabaal Sheard's return is huge for Pitt

Pittsburgh senior defensive end Jabaal Sheard is back in good standing on the team.

Sheard was arrested on July 18 following an argument with another man. He was charged with aggravated assault and allegedly threw the man through a glass door at an art gallery.

But a judge reduced Sheard's charges to misdemeanor disorderly conduct Wednesday afternoon, and Sheard pleaded guilty. He was also ordered to pay the medical bills and court costs of the man he fought and to apologize.

Pitt immediately reinstated Sheard to the team after the court decision. He had been suspended since the arrest.

I had talked with some Panthers officials in Newport, R.I., during the Big East summer kickoff, and they seemed confident that Sheard would have his charges reduced. Sheard had also been a respected teammate and in fact was lauded as a high-character guy.

“This situation with Jabaal was as surprising as it was disappointing to me,” Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. “Until this incident, his behavior has always been representative of the high standards we have for our program on and off the field. I’m confident he will learn from this and be wiser moving forward.”

Sheard will continue to face some internal discipline, likely including some extra running and conditioning drills, but it looks like all systems are go for him to start the team's opener at Utah.

That's a huge boost for the Panthers, as he helps form a fierce 1-2 pass rush on the edge with fellow senior Greg Romeus. Without Sheard, the Panthers would have had to start an inexperienced player on the road in a tough spot.