Nittany Lions' Massaro hurts knee, on heels of Drake's broken leg

Posted: March 26, 2011

Less than a week into spring football practice at Penn State, two Philadelphia-area players coach Joe Paterno and his staff had hoped would make major contributions in 2011 have gone down with leg injuries that likely will keep them sidelined at least until preseason workouts begin in August.

The day after redshirt sophomore wide receiver Curtis Drake fractured his left tibia, his second such injury in as many years, redshirt junior Pete Massaro left the field yesterday with an injury to his left knee. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam today to determine the nature and severity of the injury. Two sources close to the program, however, described it as "serious."

Massaro, a 6-4, 264-pound defensive end who starred at Marple Newtown High, redshirted in 2008 and sat out the 2009 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Blue-White spring game. He recovered in time to start the last 11 games of the 2010 season, registering 37 total tackles (20 unassisted), including eight behind the line of scrimmage and 3 1/2 sacks. He also forced one fumble and recovered another.

"We're not sure as to the extent yet," Massaro's mother, Lisa Massaro, said when contacted by the Daily News. "Pete sounded OK when I spoke to him. He said he got his cleat caught in the turf.

"But he's walking and he said he wasn't in any pain. We're hoping for the best."

So are Paterno and defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who were effusive in their praise of Massaro after he cracked the starting lineup the third week of last season, against Temple, following an injury to 2-year starter Jack Crawford. Even when Crawford returned to the field, Massaro continued on the first team, as the other season-opening starter at defensive end, Eric Latimore, encountered physical problems.

Massaro entered spring drills penciled in for one of the starting defensive end slots, with Crawford, Latimore and Jordan Hill also in the mix.

The 5-11, 173-pound Drake, who quarterbacked the West Catholic High Burrs to the 2008 PIAA Class AA state championship game, was one of only eight true freshmen to see game action in 2009. He finished that season with eight catches for 98 yards, four rushes for 24 yards, and completed one pass for a touchdown.

Expected to challenge Devon Smith and Brett Brackett at starting slot receiver a year ago, he sat out the season after fracturing his left tibia in the fifth preseason practice, on a play that did not involve contact.

After pronouncing himself a "full-go" before this spring's workouts began, Drake again fractured his left tibia on Thursday. Contrary to unsubstantiated reports, he said that this time there was contact on the play that ended his participation in spring drills.

"I got kind of rolled up on while running a route," he told the Daily News. "Right now, I'm just getting myself together.

"At this point, I'm really not too worried. Right now, it doesn't look like I'll need surgery. In about 6 weeks, we'll see how it's doing, but I definitely should be fine."

With Drake sidelined, Penn State's top three receivers are holdovers Derek Moye, Justin Brown and Smith. *

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