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Panther Hollow: Rejuvenated Thomas Rejuvenates Defense

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Now that the Panthers have passed the halfway point of the season, most are dealing with being just plain beat up after seven weeks of football. For sophomore linebacker Todd Thomas, the legs have taken the biggest beating.

Due to reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Thomas had to sit out of training camp and the first half of the season, so his season is just getting started. Hopefully for Pitt (0-3, 3-4), this also means the start of a strong finish, including a win over Big East rival Temple (2-1, 3-3) at Heinz Field Saturday.

"After missing all of spring ball and all of camp, and then six weeks going into the season, and just coming back from zero to sixty, my legs are hurting bad," Thomas said. "So after practice I usually just try to get in the cold tub and just ice a lot."

Having sore legs didn't stop him from immediately being the sort of impact player the Panthers needed. Thomas blocked a punt by Louisville's Ryan Johnson, and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown in a losing effort. But it didn't stop there; in his first start last Saturday, against Buffalo, Thomas recorded a game-high 11 tackles in a 20-6 victory.

He gives credit for his quick recovery to fellow linebacker Dan Mason, who has enjoyed a pretty incredible recovery of his own two calendar years removed from a career-threatening knee injury. Mason pushes him through practices and gives him the encouragement that he needs.

"It is a big deal having Mason beside me. Just his story in general is amazing for somebody to come back and do that, and he inspires me, on the field and off the field," Thomas said.

Furthermore, Thomas says he is ready to go for what promises to be a tough test for that rehabilitated knee.

"The quarterbacks are athletic...they have big receivers, big lineman and they are well coached," Thomas said. "We've just got to come out Saturday and just play hard."

Kickoff between the Panthers and Owls is set for noon Saturday. Panther Preview, featuring Gregg Giannotti, begins that day at 9:00 A.M., on your flagship home for Pitt football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.

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