A few days late on this, but ICYMI, Pitt's defensive line got a little stronger with the addition of a graduate transfer from Michigan State, Mark Scarpinato. He is eligible to suit up and play this fall having graduated.
Scarpinato, if you don't know his story, is coming to Pitt largely for professional aspirations. Not professional football, rather, a career in health administration. He cited the school's MHA program and the fact that Pat Narduzzi is now the head coach as reasons for coming to Pitt.
Recently, he talked about the inspiration behind working in medicine:
"I grew up going on rounds with my father, so when he was teaching at the Medical College of Wisconsin, I'd go around with him and see patients, and that started my interest in medicine,'' said Scarpinato, who graduated from Michigan State in three years with his degree in kinesiology. "When I was little he'd bring the surgical gloves and masks back home, and we'd operate on fruit. I'd always thought about that, and I've always wanted to help people, and being a doctor is a great way to do that.''
The intriguing thing about his story is that he actually retired from football after 2013, despite the chance to become a starter last year. He got the itch again and will now continue his career at Pitt.
Having retired, he obviously took a break from training. But don't worry - it sounds as if he'll be more than ready by this fall. Actually, it sounds as if he's ready now:
Admittedly, the past year has not been the best physical preparation for coming back to play major college football.
He interned last summer at his high school in the weight room, but tailed off during the busy first year of med school. But once he began looking into playing his final year, he got back to training and said he is feeling great, weighing in at 280 – just shy of the 287 he played at in his final season for MSU.
"I am just as strong as I was at Michigan State after six weeks of training," he said.
Scarpinato's numbers when last seen in that 2013 season (15 tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss, two pass breakups, and two quarterback hurries) were pretty modest. But for a team desperately seeking an identity on the defensive line with virtually no pass rush to speak of this past season, he's a welcome addition. And having played in the same defense that Narduzzi has brought to Pitt makes it an even more ideal fit.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.