Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pitt's Romeus Is Not In A Rush

Quarterbacks and offensive linemen all around the Big East were collectively disappointed to find out that defensive end Greg Romeus will be returning for his senior season with the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Big East’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year received a third round draft grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, which he understands is a conservative projection.

“I knew it could be higher than that, so it didn’t matter,” Romeus said of the grade and where he ultimately could get drafted. “Coach (Dave Wannstedt) basically told me that. If that (third round grade) was a reason (for me coming back), it wasn’t a big reason.”

More importantly, Romeus believes that another year at the collegiate level will help his career. He told College Football Insiders Radio that it wasn’t just one reason or another, but rather many factors which led to his decision to return to Pittsburgh for his senior campaign.

“The pros outweighed the cons,” Romeus said of staying in school. Like most college football players who must decide whether or not they are ready to make the jump to the NFL, Romeus leaned heavily on his family and head coach.

“It was a long decision. I didn’t make my mind up actually until the last week, a few days before the deadline. I talked to Coach. He talked to me. Toward the last few games he just told me he would look things up for me and tell me what the best option would be,” Romeus said. “He and my family all sat down and came to the conclusion that the best decision for me would be to stay. Every year it seems I have improved, not just physically but mentally, which is a big part of the game that you need to haave when it comes to going to the next level. I just think another year of experience would benefit me a lot more. There’s really no rush.”

Who else encouraged him? None other than Pittsburgh alumnus and current New York Jet Darrelle Revis, who provided advice and shared his own experience; as a junior, he was presented with the same choice.

“He (Revis) told me to just trust Coach,” Romeus told College Football Insiders Radio. Adding, “I knew Coach wouldn’t lead me in the wrong direction.” Wannstedt appears to have earned the type of trust in his players that can be the core of a program on the rise.

A high school basketball star, Romeus was a bit behind in the learning curve but made a solid contribution as a red-shirt freshman in 2007, recording 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. In 2008 those numbers leaped to 51 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. The 6’6”, 270-pound Romeus enjoyed a 2009 season in which he finished with eight sacks, 43 tackles, three forced fumbles, five passes defended and an interception on his way to Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as an All-College Football Insiders third team selection.

So where does he need to improve? Romeus wants to lead the team and ensure they achieve all that they can in 2010.

“We have a lot of goals for next year and to come back and have a chance to win a championship would be something good. I’m happy with my decision and I don’t regret it.”

Next year, Pittsburgh returns some key pieces from a 10-3 team that nearly pulled off a conference championship. Something that will be vital is leadership, and Romeus is on it.

“Me, as a senior, I feel as if I have to get out there and lead the guys. I’m ready to take on that role, coming in there everyday and making sure we train as hard as we can.”

Romeus understands that next year could bring even greater opportunities for him, namely a college degree and a Big East Championship. He’s already gotten college football fans excited about the 2010 Panthers, admiring the program’s consistency.

“We’re just improving every day. Everybody understands that it starts in the off-season and it’s something that we’re all buying into. Every year that happens we see the results are getting better. We are looking forward to that.”

As for this coming weekend, if you think Romeus is rooting for Revis to win a championship of his own, think again. When asked if he would be rooting for the former Panther he answered in the negative.

“Living in my Miami, we learned not to like the Jets.”

Click Here To Listen To Entire College Football Insiders Interview With Greg Romeus

Photos Courtesy of Dennis Hubbard & University of Pittsburgh