Pitt QBs show they can adapt to change
Three years ago, Trey Anderson was making plans to attend Tyler Junior College in his native Texas.
It made sense.
In 2010, he was an all-state quarterback who led Pearland High School to an undefeated season and a state championship in Texas' largest classification. He set school records for passing yards (4,654), completions (306) and touchdown passes (41).
His size (6-foot, 180 pounds) was an issue, and he had no FBS scholarship offers.
Then Todd Graham changed Anderson's life forever.
Graham needed quarterback depth at Pitt — not unlike this year's team — and he knew about Anderson through his many Texas contacts. Plus, Anderson ran a similar offense at Pearland to Graham's — same plays, formations and high-tempo.
Speaking of Graham, Pitt can thank him for recruiting both quarterbacks — Anderson and Chad Voytik — who will line up Sunday for the penultimate practice of the spring. Voytik, a rising sophomore who led Pitt to victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in relief of Tom Savage, will be the starter (although he shares snaps equally with Anderson in spring practice).
The depth will be fortified this summer when Adam Bertke of tiny Marion Local (Ohio) High School enrolls. Also, Joe Repischak, who played quarterback at Upper St. Clair, will join the team as a walk-on.
Bertke, in fact, will be Pitt's only scholarship quarterback recruited exclusively by coach Paul Chryst. Tra'von Chapman was dismissed after going through spring drills in 2013 in the wake of pleading guilty to an attempted assault on a former girlfriend. Wade Freebeck, who had verbally committed to Pitt, flipped to Vanderbilt the day before signing day this year.
Chryst's challenge will be dealing with the effects of Voytik's on-the-job training. Other than the bowl game, in which he played only the second half, Voytik has had almost no playing time since the 2011 season at Cleveland (Tenn.) High School when he was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 4 pro-style quarterback.
Asked what he will take from spring drills, Voytik said: “How much I have to grow. I learned a lot, and as you learn you see how much more you have to learn. I'm experiencing that, and it's exciting because I see that room for improvement, and now it's time to do it.”
Anderson, a rising junior, came to Pitt as a walk-on three weeks before the start of training camp. By the end of August, he had earned a scholarship.
As a freshman, he played in four games, attempting 33 passes, as Graham sought a change of pace from Tino Sunseri. But he's only 2 for 2 in one appearance under Chryst the past two years. He was redshirted last year.
Graham has been gone for 2½ years, replaced by Chryst, who installed a different scheme. Yet Anderson — level-headed and accepting of the situation — said he wouldn't change anything. He said the variety has increased his overall knowledge.
“I joke with my dad all the time,” Anderson said. “I've gone from a junior-college commit in Texas to Pittsburgh. It's been crazy.”
What he especially appreciates is the opportunity to learn from Chryst, one of the nation's most respected quarterback coaches. Anderson wants to be a coach after he graduates.
“It's something I've known since I was a little kid,” he said.
When Pearland won the state championship, coach Tony Heath said Anderson played a “perfect game” and likened him to “a coach on the field.”
“If I could coach with Coach Chryst, that would be awesome,” Anderson said. “Or wherever the job takes me.”
Anderson has no illusions of winning the starting job.
“I don't pay attention to any of that stuff,” Anderson said. “None of that affects me. I compete with myself every day, try to get better every day.”
He also believes he can help Voytik.
“I definitely think I can help him with the mental aspect of it,” Anderson said. “He is definitely stronger and bigger than I am, faster and all that. But we can go through it together.”