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October 27, 2011Pitt lost three starters to season-ending injuries in Wednesday night's win over Connecticut at Heinz Field, including junior tailback Ray Graham, head coach Todd Graham announced on Thursday.
Ray Graham left the game on Pitt's first offensive drive with an injury to his right knee. He rushed twice for 19 yards before the injury and finishes the season with 958 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Graham also entered this week as the second-leading rusher in the nation.
"He is an unbelievable leader on our football team," Todd Graham said after the game. "I've never had a player who can match what he does work ethic-wise. He loves this game and he plays this game the way it's supposed to be played. He's special."
Also in the Connecticut game, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Matt Rotheram suffered a fractured left ankle and will undergo surgery, and redshirt junior receiver Cameron Saddler fractured his sternum.
"We are incredibly disappointed for these three young men," Todd Graham said in a press release on Thursday. "They have put so much work into our program and it's heartbreaking to see their seasons end prematurely. Even from the sidelines, I know they are going to remain important leaders who will continue to make an impact as we strive to reach our goal of a Big East championship.
"I know each will attack their rehabilitation programs with incredible commitment and be back better than ever for next season. That's the type of people and competitors they are and we're proud that they are Panthers."
Graham has started every game this season and was Pitt's most explosive and reliable offensive weapon, touching the ball on 37% of the Panthers' total plays and personally gaining 47.6% of the team's total offensive yards entering Wednesday's game.
Saddler made his seventh start of the season Wednesday night and caught three passes for 66 yards in the game. He finishes this season with 19 receptions for 207 yards and one touchdown.
Rotheram started the last two games, working at right tackle against Utah and right guard against Connecticut
With those three sidelined for the season, Pitt now has five starters out for the year. Redshirt sophomore safety Jason Hendricks (shoulder) and redshirt senior offensive lineman Chris Jacobson (knee) were lost earlier this fall.
Additionally, redshirt freshman receiver Salath Williams (shoulder) is out for the season.