PITTSBURGH — Last summer, Tre Tipton’s football career was put in jeopardy.
The Pitt wide receiver injured his knee in an off-the-field accident that ended his 2017 season before it ever started.
It also put his career in jeopardy, though Tipton has since fully recovered and is one of about nine or 10 wide receivers battling for playing time in Pitt’s crowded wide receivers’ room.
The injury certainly set back Tipton’s chances of being a big-time contributor this season and following up on a promising sophomore campaign in 2016, when averaged over 11 yards per catch as a slot receiver.
But according to Tipton, having his career threatened was the best thing that’s ever happened to him, because of the change in outlook that it gave him.
“Through my injury, I’ve gotten deeper in my faith, and that’s helped me mentally to continue to be strong with my injury and the things that I’m doing.”
The things that he’s doing aren’t just limited to the grind of training camp. Since his injury, Tipton has started an on-campus program for fellow student-athletes at Pitt called L.O.V.E.
“I wanted to be better and I wanted to help people be better with injuries, or with their depression or with their anxiety,” Tipton said. “You go through a hardship, you go through some hard times, it becomes very difficult, but with that said, if you have a positive mindset, it’s very possible to come back better than you were before.”
Tipton’s L.O.V.E. group — which stands for living out victoriously everyday — meets on campus and is closing in on its one-year anniversary next week. Tipton said that he’s had as many as 40 Pitt student-athletes at the meetings, which serve as forums to share experiences and provide positive support to one another.
“It helps student-athletes who deal with depression, anxiety and injury,” Tipton said. “The goal is basically, through community, to help student-athletes come together as one.”
The growth of Tipton from a quiet young man from the small town of Apollo in Armstrong County to one of the team’s campus leaders hasn’t gone unnoticed. Teammate Jazzee Stocker said he’s been to Tre’s program a couple times and wears a L.O.V.E. wristband to practice every day.
Though Tipton’s efforts are mostly focused on his fellow student-athletes, his coaching staff has noticed, as well.
“Tre is a remarkable young man, both on the field and off the field,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “He cares about the other student body. He’s got a great heart. I wish we could get in and measure some hearts sometimes, when you’re on the road recruiting.
“It’s something you’re proud of as a head coach.”