Injury may force UM lineman to call it quits

Updated: October 31, 2003, 12:42 PM ET

MISSOULA -- A shoulder injury has ended the season for University of Montana standount defensive end Ciche Pitcher, and may have ended his career.

Pitcher has had trouble with the shoulder, which has already been operated on twice since he first injured it in his 2001 All-American campaign.

That year, Pitcher had 11 sacks, 17 tackles-for-loss, 59 total tackles, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the regular season and was named to Don Hanson's Football Gazette All-America team.

Despite the surgeries, Pitcher said the shoulder keeps popping out of its socket.

"I'm having a lot of trouble with my shoulder," Pitcher said. "I've talked to the coaches and maybe have a shot at coming back next year if I get healthy. It's kind of up in the air. I still need to talk to my doctor."

The former Anaconda standout said he'll consult his doctor in the next couple of weeks to see if he needs a third surgery.

"His shoulder will not allow him to compete at the level he wants to compete at," said Montana coach Bobby Hauck. "There's no fault in being injured. It happens."

Pitcher said the shoulder becomes less stable every time it pops out of the socket. He said he doesn't want to play again if it can't be rehabbed properly.

"I don't want to have an arm I can't use when I'm older and not be able to do anything else," Pitcher said this week.

The Grizzlies have already lost sophomore defensive end Lance Spencer to a season-ending knee injury.

That leaves the team with seniors Tim Bush and Chris Connors and freshmen Mike Murphy and Mike Potts at defensive end. Freshman Dustin Dlouhy has also been practicing as a defensive end.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index