Pittsburg State defensive coordinator Dave Wiemers breathed a huge sigh of relief when he found out that two of Pitt State’s top defensive players were returning for the 2009 season.

Pittsburg State defensive coordinator Dave Wiemers breathed a huge sigh of relief when he found out that two of Pitt State’s top defensive players were returning for the 2009 season.
After sitting out in 2008 due to injuries, defensive end Rashad Pittman and cornerback Bryan McMurtery will return to a defensive unit that already boasts six other returners from last season.
“They are proven and they have both been around the block,” Wiemers said. “You can count on them.”
But, the road back was not the easiest for either of them.
McMurtery, a 5-foot-11 senior from Kansas City, Kan., took a medical redshirt last year after tearing his Achilles.
“It really doesn’t even bother me now,” said McMurtery, an honorable mention All-MIAA selection in 2007. “My good one bothers me more than the bad one does.”
Since the start of practice, McMurtery said that there has been an acclimation period but, it has not been as tough as even he expected.
“There is not too much difference,” McMurtery said. “It’s like riding a bike, you just have to get back on.”
As for Pittman, the 6-2, 266-pound senior from Tulsa, Okla., it is just good to get back into action after tearing his MCL last season.
“It feels good to be back,” said Pittman, another honorable mention All-MIAA selection from 2007. “I’m just really more excited because we had a great team last year.”
The 2008 PSU defense gave up just 129.2 yards per game on the ground and 321 yards of total offense per game.
And, it was difficult for both McMurtery and Pittman to just stand on the sidelines and watch their defensive brethren on the field last season.
“It was tough to see plays you could’ve helped on,” Pittman said. “You really want to help your team on and off the field.”
With taking a year off to rehab, both still feel that pressure that comes with playing football at Pitt State.
“Anytime you play for Pitt State, there is always pressure,” McMurtery said. “You feel like you have to play perfect but, we know that is just not possible so we just do the best that we can.”
This season, Wiemers said that Pittman and McMurtery will be looked upon to lead an already veteran defense on the field.
“They know how to get through it and they will be players we count on this season,” Wiemers said.
Both players stayed in Pittsburg over the summer to help their comfort level with getting back on the field.
They spent time running drills with most of the Gorilla football team over the summer months and that seemed to pay off more than anything else.
“My foot has healed and that was my main concern,” McMurtery said. “I was out here this summer and that took away my fear of running. Now, it’s just back to the basics.”
As for now, both are just settling into their roles with the PSU defense and are ready to get back to action.
“I just feel like an old veteran,” McMurtery said. “I just try to give the new guys some tips on receivers and be a role model.”

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140. Follow Morning Sun sports at twitter.com/mssports.