Those 5 words were probably 5 of the toughest I've had to write on this blog. Jason and I were there the day Shady took his official visit to Pitt. We waited around all day at the Pete as Gameday and other events took place at the Pete. That was probably one of the longest, yet most fun days in my life. We were able to host College Gameday, Pitt beat Georgetown, and the Oakland Zoo started a tradition of trying to get football recruits to come to Pitt.
While the checklist sign was one of the bigger stories of that day, I'm sure there were plenty of other great memories being made. I know one involves Jones running into Shady at Burger King before the game started. They shared a little conversation which I know will always be special to Jason. There are many other memories we will have of him that we will never forget.
When he got on the field he completely changed the game. I remember last year when he didn't play as much as we (Jones and I) thought he should in the first two games. When Jason wrote about it people jumped down his throat saying he didn't know what he was talking about and that LSH was much better than Shady. The first ever road trip Jones and I took to see Pitt football was driving to Michigan State where Shady really showed the world he was for real. His early 70 yard touchdown run proved that he was the big man on campus.
Now those are all just memories. As we wish we could have seen #1 hang around for another year or two we will wish the same of #25. We will be left with that sour taste in our mouth knowing that only two true sophomores have been able to leave early for the NFL and they were both Pitt Panthers.
It is time we move on. We can't get stuck in the past. Kevin Collier, Chris Burns, and Shariff Harris will need to step up and fill the large hole we have not only to replace Shady but to also replace LSH. We also need to make sure we don't over or under estimate our abilities this year. Shady was a very rare talent and it will probably be a very long time until we see someone as explosive as him in the backfield. That is not knocking the guys we have now, and I certainly hope I am wrong, but it would be unfair to expect any of the guys on the current roster to perform up to the same standards as Shady did.
One player does not make a team, but this loss certainly hurts. We just need to take a deep breath and move forward. There are other talented players on this team who will be expected to step up because they will be counted on to do so.
Despite all of the negativity that could surround Shady and his family for this choice, it is over and we need to accept it. So to Shady, I say thank you for a great 2 years at Pitt. You were a joy to watch every Saturday. During your time here you were a great ambassador to Pitt and I hope you continue to be one. I hope that you have a long and successful career in the NFL. No matter where you end up or where life takes you, just remember, you will always be a Pittsburgh Panther.