The Pittsburgh Panthers got back into the Big East race with an impressive win over Connecticut Wednesday night, but in doing so they lost three players for the season, including junior running back Ray Graham, the conference's leading rusher.
Graham went down to an injury to his right leg on Pittsburgh's opening drive. On Thursday, head coach Todd Graham (no relation) informed the media that Graham's injury was indeed season-ending.
Graham, a 5-09, 195 pound junior had been enjoying yet another spectacular season. Overshadowed the past two seasons by Dion Lewis (now with the Philadelphia Eagles), Graham had nonetheless rushed for a combined 1,273 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns.
This season Graham was leading the Big East with an average of 134 rushing yards per game. Through eight games this season (including Connecticut) Graham had rushed for a career high 958 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He also caught a career high 30 passes for 200 yards.
Prior to the injury Graham was considered a potential early entry into the 2012 draft. NFLDraftScout.com had Graham rated as the No. 8 running back and 95th rated player, overall.
Graham could still elect to leave school early and pursue his NFL dream, though the seriousness of his injury may keep him from working out for pro scouts until after the April draft. As such, it would appear likely at this time that Graham would elect to have the corrective surgery, rehabilitate and return to Pittsburgh to play next season.
While Graham is certainly the most well-known of the trio of Pittsburgh players injured Wednesday night, the Panthers also will be hurt with the loss of junior wide receiver Cameron Sadler (broken sternum) and freshman offensive lineman Matt Rotheram (fractured ankle), each of whose injuries will end their seasons prematurely.