ShareThis Page
Pitt

Kenny Pickett starts spring drills as Pitt's No. 1 quarterback

Chris Adamski
| Monday, March 12, 2018, 7:06 p.m.
Pitt head coach Patt Narduzzi celebrates with quarterback Kenny Pickett after  beating #2 Miami Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Patt Narduzzi celebrates with quarterback Kenny Pickett after beating #2 Miami Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett celebrates with students after  beating No. 2 Miami on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett celebrates with students after beating No. 2 Miami on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at Heinz Field.

A year ago at this time, Kenny Pickett was a wide-eyed, do-as-your-told, freshman early enrollee.

As for the first session of Pitt's spring practice Monday? Pickett was a different man.

Coach Pat Narduzzi reiterated from the indoor facility at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday morning that Pickett is the "clear No. 1 guy." Pickett said his mindset is "a lot different" than it was last spring.

"Having a year under my belt coming in (last) spring was definitely huge," Pickett said. "My progress and my growth, I think you could see it out there today. I was playing a lot more confident this spring than I was last spring, being in the offense once already."

Pickett, as he said, spent last spring "low on the totem pole" behind four more experienced college quarterbacks. Now, not only is Pickett the unquestioned starter, he is the quarterback with the most seniority on the team.

Though Pickett has just four games, 66 attempted passes and one start on his Pitt résumé, what a start that was: 253 yards of offense, three touchdowns accounted for and no interceptions in a season-ending 24-14 win against No. 2 Miami.

Pickett said other than losing some weight then putting it back on to get back to 225 pounds in the 3½ months since the Miami win, his sudden late-season star turn hasn't changed him.

"It's been the same as usual for me," Pickett said. "I haven't changed. After every season, I always pride myself on getting in the weight room the day after the game, the first game back. It's been a habit since I have been a freshman in high school. I have kept the same tradition. It's just business as usual."

Becoming the starting quarterback compelled Pickett to tweak an aspect of his persona: embracing a leadership role. That, of course, is requisite for a starting quarterback no matter how long he's been on campus.

"He's just as a guy for whom football comes easy," Pitt offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "He loves it. He loves to study it. He wants to be a really good player — and that's where it really begins. He's willing to work at it. A lot of guys aren't. A lot of guys say they are, but they don't. He says he does, and then he does it."

Watson said over the winter he put Pickett through a three-point intellectual boot camp of sorts: studying defensive football tendencies, going over in-game situational management and "the nuts and bolts" of the offense's protections and reads.

After last season when Pitt started three quarterbacks and the spring and fall camps were marked by an ongoing quarterback competition, Narduzzi chose to remove any doubt about Pickett this year.

But don't mistake that to mean Narduzzi and Watson aren't inviting competition into the quarterbacks room. Ricky Town — one of the nation's most sought-after quarterback recruits out of high school — signed with Pitt in December as a junior-college transfer.

"Kenny is clearly the No. 1 guy," Narduzzi said, 'but I'll tell you what, Ricky Town does some great things here. He's got a nice arm."

Pickett calls Town "a great guy" whom he'd looked up to while in high school. The pair are already bouncing ideas off each another.

"We will make each other better," Pickett said.

That's exactly what Watson wants to hear.

"I have not been through a season where we haven't (used) two or three quarterbacks," Watson said. "It's usually two we're using every season, so we need a room — not only a starter but a room. If something happens, we can transition to the next guy and we can play at a high level. I do like both guys' character they bring to the table."

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me