I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972. I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion. The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree. I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used. I will add at least one a day, maybe two.
My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:
3. Place in program history.
4. Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers.
5. No current players.
46. Greg Romeus (2006-2010) and Jabaal Sheard (2007-2010)- Yeah, I know, I'm cheating, and I hate when people do this with lists, too, but the truth is, both of these players are intrinsically linked, both deserve to be on the list, and both have had practically the same career totals. Plus, it's my list so I can do anything I want!
How close are their careers? Sheard had more tackles (142-135), Romeus had more tackles for loss (38.5-35) and both had 19.5 sacks. Both were also finalists for the Hendricks Award, Romeus as a junior and Sheard as a senior.
A case can be made that a season ending injury cost Romeus his senior year and his numbers would otherwise be much better, thereby making his career significantly better. Plus, when he was healthy, and combined with Sheard, he was considered the marquee player of the two. But Sheard was consistently good when opposite Romeus, then became one of the best defensive ends in the country when he had his chance to shine as a senior.
After lettering as a freshman, Sheard became a starter opposite Romeus in his sophomore season and had 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. As a junior, he again was second fiddle to Romeus but still was highly effective with 5 sacks, a team leading 12 hurries, and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Sadly, Romeus went down with a season ending injury at the beginning of 2010, and the spotlight was on Sheard. And he did not disappoint. On the season, the senior was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and had 52 tackles, 9 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 4 forced fumbles (5th best nationally).
Romeus, like Sheard a Florida native, was so raw when he came to Pitt that he didn't even know how to get in a proper stance at defensive end. But it didn't take him long to learn. After a redshirt season, he became a Freshman All-American and had 4 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
But Romeus was just warming up. As a redshirt sophomore, he ratcheted it up even more with 7.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He even blocked three PATs. As a junior, he became the co-Defensive MVP of the Big East, along with teammate Mick Williams, and was named to a few All-American teams. On the season, he had 8 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. He also added three forced fumbles, an interception, and another blocked PAT.
It was expected that the best was yet to come for Romeus and he was named a Preseason All-American as a senior. But a back injury forced him to limp through the season opener against Utah, before his season, and college career, ended with major surgery.
Romeus was drafted on potential alone, in the 7th round by the New Orleans Saints. He missed his entire rookie season while recovering from back and knee injuries that he acquired at Pitt, then after beginning to show his great physical abilities again in offseason workouts, he once again blew out his knee. The Saints were forced to release him and he currently is not signed with a team. Unfortunately his career may be over.
On the other hand, Sheard was a 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Browns and quickly became one of the best young defensive ends in the NFL. In his rookie season last year he had 8.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles.