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Where are they now? Rick Trocano

Trocano is still keeping tabs on Pittsburgh

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

By Rich Emert, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Even though he is a continent away, Rick Trocano keeps up with Pitt's football fortunes.

"I bleed blue and gold," he said with a laugh. "Absolutely, I follow what's going on there. I still talk to guys that I played with. When we've gotten together for reunions we pick up right where we left off.

Rick Trocano was an effective quarterback while at the University of Pittsburgh. (Post-Gazette)

"We sort of had that foxhole mentality when I was there. We all watched out for each other and, because of that, we were a close team."

Trocano played during what many consider to have been Pitt's golden era of football. He was at Pitt from 1977-80, and, during that time, the Panthers went 39-8-1, winning three of their four bowl games. Trocano, a quarterback/defensive back, played a major part in a number of those victories.

He was selected by the Steelers in the 11th round of the NFL draft in 1981 and played one year for them and two for the Cleveland Browns. His NFL career was cut short by arm problems.

"I altered my throwing motion and ended up hurting my arm," he said. "That ended my career. I still can't throw without some pain."

A Cleveland native, Trocano, 44, lives in Seattle with his wife Phoebe, daughter Kaylee, 14, and son Cody, 9. He is the division manager for special projects for Sequoya Electric and has worked for the company for 10 years.

"My mother's brother was in the military and stationed in Seattle and just stayed out here," he said. "I used to come out to visit and ended up getting a job out here. That was 16 years ago."

A lover of outdoor activities, Trocano enjoys being close to the mountains, salmon streams and Alaska. He takes his family skiing in the winter and camping and fishing in the summer. He recently went bowhunting for elk.

"I miss Western Pennsylvania, but this is a great area for those types of things," he said. "To be able to go up to Alaska and do some fishing is great."

There are those who would say Trocano had a great career at Pitt. He was recruited by then-Pitt assistant coach Jimmy Johnson, who went on to coach the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, out of Brooklyn High School in Cleveland. Trocano was Pitt's starting quarterback in 1978, completing 138 of 283 passes for 1,648 yards and five touchdowns.

He finished with 4,219 career passing yards, the sixth-best total in Pitt history, and 673 yards rushing. Trocano's figures would have been better except that Dan Marino enrolled at Pitt in 1979 and took over at quarterback as a freshman.

That didn't stop Trocano from making major contributions. He shifted to defense and was a starting safety as a senior.

One of his more memorable performances came against West Virginia in 1980. He started the game at safety but ended up shifting to quarterback when Marino was injured. Pitt didn't miss a beat and won, 42-14.

"The coaches would have me go over and throw some passes on offense during practice to keep me in shape just in case something would happen to Dan ... and it did," Trocano said.

"That was one of things about the coaching staff ... they were always prepared. We also were like a big family and we expected to win every time we went out on the field. We just had that mentality."

Trocano ended his playing career at Pitt by splitting time at quarterback with Marino in a 37-9 victory against South Carolina in the 1980 Gator Bowl. Each threw for a touchdown, and Trocano ran for a score. Pitt finished 11-1.

When his NFL career ended, Trocano had opportunities to get into coaching. Instead, he settled down and took a job with Westinghouse.

"I really didn't want the gypsy life that can come with coaching," he said. "I had to do some traveling in the NFL and just couldn't see bouncing around and putting my wife and future children through that. I'm happy with how things worked out."

(Have an idea for a Where are they Now? E-mail emert196@comcast.net)

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