It’s somewhat commonplace for professional athletes to announce their retirement, spend a full year out of the game, and then jump back in. It’s almost unheard of for a college athlete to do it, though. The timeline is just too short.
That’s what former Michigan State defensive tackle Mark Scarpinato is attempting to do, though. Scarpinato tweeted Wednesday he is reviving his football career as a member of the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Want to thank everyone for the support. I am extremely excited for an opportunity to finish out my playing career at Pitt. #HailToPitt
— Mark Scarpinato (@MarkScarpinato) April 29, 2015
The connection there is obvious, of course. Former Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is now the head coach at Pitt.
Scarpinato was last seen on the field as a rotation player on a No. 1-ranked defense that helped Michigan State win a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl, collecting 15 tackles with one TFL, one sack two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
He left football following the 2013 season to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon at Milwaukee’s Medical College of Wisconsin.
“When I signed my letter of intent, my goal was to graduate from Michigan State and win a Rose Bowl,” Scarpinato told MLive.com at the time. “I’ve achieved those things, and now it’s time for me to move on. I called my dad last Friday and told him, and he told me he hasn’t been this proud of me since the day I was born.”
A Michigan State graduate, Scarpinato will use the graduate transfer exception to pursue a Master’s of Health Administration.
“Med school is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life; harder than any conditioning or football, and you have to give everything you have to it,” he said. “There was just something missing for me. You can tell the guys on the field who aren’t 100% in, and that’s how it was in med school. There was a dichotomy between me and everyone else because I was still thinking about football, so I needed to finish it,” he told Panther Lair. “So I was looking at the top MHA programs, and for like the first five days I kept glancing past Pitt; it didn’t click. I talked to some other schools, and then at two in the morning one night, I woke up and said, wait, Coach ‘Duzz is the head coach at Pitt and they have a great MHA program. It all fell in from there.”