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.
37. Tom Tumulty (1991-95)- You really have to feel for this excellent linebacker. Not only did he play on some of the program's worst teams in decades, but he also had major injury problems that eventually cost him him his football career at a young age. And for a player who came to Pitt when no other great prospects wanted to, he should always deserve great respect from Pitt fans everywhere.
The Penn Hills linebacker was a 5-star prospect before they were called 5-star prospects, and he showed why in his freshman season when he started from the first snap of the first game. That season resulted in 84 tackles and the first ever Big East Rookie of the Year award. Things were looking up for the program, too, as the Panthers finished 6-5 for Paul Hackett in that 1991 season.
Unfortunately, Tumulty's second season was ruined by a painful torn pectoral muscle. After that redshirt season, Hackett was fired and the second round of Johnny Majors started when Tumulty returned for his redshirt sophomore season. The tough as nails linebacker didn't miss a beat in the opener as the Panthers eked out a surprise win at Southern Mississippi. Not surprisingly Tumulty led the way with 17 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions, including the game winner with 34 seconds left in the game. He ended the season with an even better 114 tackles but the Panthers season ended at a rather sad 3-8.
Two more poor seasons by the team followed as the Panthers had another 3-8 record in 1994 followed by a 1995 record of 2-9, but even through bad elbow and knee injuries, not to mention many other maladies, Tumulty ended his career with 413 tackles, good for fourth best all-time at the school.
After being taken in the 6th round by the Cincinnati Bengals, Tumulty had a brief, but productive career before having a knee injury eventually ended his football playing forever. Ultimately one has to wonder how great Tumulty could have been had he played on of Pitt's best teams, and if he remained healthy throughout his career.