PITTSBURGH — The process of recovering from a traumatic knee injury is a nightmare for any athlete. Long hours of physical therapy while being stripped from the sport you love for at least 7-9 months. And while you’re working your way through the multiple steps, proving that you’re healthy enough to get back out there, the severity of the injury that you endured still ponders in the back of your head along with thinking that you might not get to where you were before that injury.
Well, Pitt’s Tre Tipton went through the process not only once, but three times in four years.
After a third injury, most athletes would just move on with life. That’s not the case for Tipton. The Apollo-Ridge alum has continued to battle back ferociously from the unfathomable amount of injuries that he’s dealt with in such a short amount of time.
Tipton knew that the hourglass was running out on his football career, but since the NCAA granted him a medical hardship waiver, he’s had no regret of giving the game he loved one more shot.
“You could never go back and go pick up a football and play football,” Tipton said. “It’s not like basketball. It’s not like you can go play baseball and go to the batting cages. It’s one of those things that when you’re done, you’re done. I really thought to myself; I was like, can you really give this up knowing that you still have a chance. I had to give it all I got, and that’s right now what I’m doing.”
Regardless of the receiving numbers that he puts up this season, or how his body holds up, Tipton is still one of the most important personalities in Pitt’s locker room regardless if he’s out on the field or not.
He’s uniquely positive, uplifting, and reeks maturity. But he’s not this way when he’s around football. Tipton is a guy who is always helping others in the community, and he’s got dreams that go far past scoring touchdowns or winning championships.
“I’m also very self-motivated with myself,” Tipton said. “I have a goal in mind, and my goal is to save the world in some type of way, and I’m not going to stop until I get there. I’m probably the hardest person on myself compared to anyone else that I know. The reason why I am that way is because I know what I can be and I know what I want.”
Tipton sat down with Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi this offseason to weigh his options for the rest of his football career. That conversation eventually made Tipton realize that he wanted to be a part of something special in his final collegiate season and Narduzzi thinks he might know why:
“I don’t know,” Narduzzi said. “I guess I didn’t screw it up, maybe? I don’t know. It comes down to culture.
“They feel like they could come back and get better, and Tre’s the same way. If practice was not fun, he may be in the real world. If he felt like we weren’t treating him the right way, you know, these guys might all leave. So, I think that’s a big thing. You can look at wins and losses, and you can evaluate a lot of things, but doing it the right way and building relationships with your kids is important.”
Tipton still hopes to contribute this season. He will likely get reps as the slot receiver to fill in for the departure of Maurice Ffrench, alongside returners Shocky Jacques-Louis, Jared Wayne, and Taysir Mack.
But as spring practice is underway, Tipton is still sidelined until he’s 100% healthy. The plan is to get to that point before the end of the summer when things start to get rolling for Pitt’s upcoming season. With all that he has had to overcome, giving it one last push, shouldn’t be too harsh for the hometown kid.
“It was a process,” Tipton added. “I had to really sit down with myself and think about everything. My body has been through a lot of building and breaking. … (I’m) just trying to maintain my health and create even a healthier body than I (had) before.”