Pitt poised to dismiss RB Jason Douglas

PITTSBURGH -- Suspended running back Jason Douglas is unlikely to play for Pitt again after being charged with striking a pedestrian with his car while driving drunk.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said Wednesday that the likelihood of Douglas returning to the team "is seriously in jeopardy."

The 19-year-old Douglas was arrested after witnesses told police a motorist hit a pedestrian on Pittsburgh's South Side about 1:40 a.m. Sunday. Douglas, a redshirt freshman from Opa-locka, Fla., was discovered by police trying to park a damaged car minutes later and was arrested, according to a police complaint and affidavit.

Douglas faces a preliminary hearing Thursday on charges of drunken driving, aggravated assault with a vehicle while driving under the influence and being involved in an accident that caused personal injury. He also received a citation for underage drinking.

A test showed Douglas had a blood-alcohol content of 0.178 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 for drivers, police said.

"The Jason Douglas situation is very disappointing," Wannstedt said. "I think everybody knows that's not what this football team is about."

Douglas carried three times for 8 yards and had one reception for 1 yard in Pitt's first two games.

The incident is the second involving a Pitt player in less than two months.

Last month, Wannstedt said he was comfortable with his decision not to hold defensive end Jabaal Sheard out of game action after Sheard threw a man through a Pittsburgh art gallery's glass door during a July 18 fight. Sheard pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and a district judge ordered him to pay a $300 fine and the other man's medical bills. Sheard also was subjected to internal team discipline.

Linebacker Dan Mason, a passenger in Douglas' car, was not charged but has been dropped to the second team for the Sept. 23 game against No. 17 Miami (1-1).

While Mason was not charged, Wannstedt said the middle linebacker "has got to understand and learn to make better decisions as far as what he's doing, where he's at and who he's with."

"He needs to prove to me that he can do the right things and be accountable off the field and in the classroom and on the football field," Wannstedt said. "When he does that, he'll get his job back. This is not a football decision. This is a combination of accountability for academics and just being smart off the field."

Against Miami, Max Gruder will move to middle linebacker, Greg Williams will start in Gruder's spot at strong side linebacker and Tristan Roberts will start at weak side linebacker.

Pittsburgh (1-1) will oppose Miami -- and most of its remaining schedule -- without defensive end Greg Romeus, who will have surgery Thursday to repair a disc in his back and won't return for at least six weeks. Last season's Big East co-defensive player of the year could be back for the end of the season and any bowl game Pitt plays.

Romeus is being projected to go high in the NFL draft, and Wannstedt said he is disappointed the player will miss much of his senior season.

"When he started having some problems the first day or two of [preseason] practice, we took every step medically that was recommended from therapy, the doctors, shots, everything that [would] get it resolved without having surgery. ... The plan is that it's not season-ending surgery. How many games we'll get back for, we'll just have to take that week to week," Wannstedt said.