Voytik preparing to accept challenges of being Pitt's starting QB

Jerry DiPaola
| Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, 9:42 p.m.

When he was a high school senior and the Pitt coach abandoned a group of teenage boys looking for someone to trust, Chad Voytik stepped up and kept the recruiting class together with phone calls and text messages.

Why? He's the quarterback, and that's what quarterbacks do.

When he enrolled at Pitt a year later, Voytik patiently waited and learned for two years behind Tino Sunseri and Tom Savage.

Why? If they want to get ahead, that's what quarterbacks do.

Now that he is Pitt's perceived starter — although coach Paul Chryst felt no need to say so Monday — Voytik still worries about those around him.

Why? It's his team, and, besides, that's what quarterbacks do.

“You just have to be conscious of everyone around you,” Voytik said moments after the summer's first practice session concluded. “It's not just you getting through the day. It's yourself and others. That's what a quarterback is supposed to be. He is supposed to make those around him better and to be thinking of others constantly.”

Voytik gets that part of it. He's attentive, alert and acutely aware that football requires a team effort.

Wide receiver Tyler Boyd added this: “He's smart, book-smart. ‘A' average in classes.”

But can he play?

That's one of the questions shadowing Pitt as it prepares for its second season in the ACC. Voytik looked good last season in his first extended opportunity, but he threw only nine passes and completed five for 108 yards in one half of the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl against Bowling Green.

Experience? Like many members of the team, Voytik doesn't have enough of it.

Chryst's method for counteracting that inexperience this spring was saturating him with every aspect of the offense, on and off the field.

Too much too soon?

Chryst, who refuses to treat his players like children, doesn't think so.

“He can handle it,” Chryst said. “He's got two years under his belt. The stuff we are going over and went over he's heard before but maybe resonates a little bit more.”

By all accounts, Voytik is sharp in film sessions, but the room where those meetings are held is air-conditioned and the chairs comfortable. Pass rushers aren't welcome.

“You feel great about it on film, but that's the bird's-eye view,” Voytik said. “When you are there, experiencing it firsthand, that's when it starts to get real and you don't see things as clear. But you take the tools that you learned and try to apply them as best you can.”

The games will be the true test, and Voytik has nearly four weeks to prepare for the first one Aug. 30 against Delaware.

He will bring an additional dimension to the offense that Sunseri and Savage lacked: speed the defense must respect. Voytik, who ran for a tie-breaking, 5-yard touchdown in the bowl game, is the most mobile Pitt quarterback since Tyler Palko (2002-2006).

For that reason, Pitt's offense will include more rollouts, moving pockets and screen passes. The idea is to have Voytik capable of performing multiple tasks from almost anywhere on the field.

Chryst is encouraged, but he cautions it's only one day.

“It's starting to come,” he said. “Things are in his wheelhouse. He just has to get his legs underneath him.

“It could be better, but I thought it was a pretty good start.”

As for naming a starter between Voytik and redshirt junior Trey Anderson, that is not a priority for Chryst.

“I think it's unfair to put that on guys right now, honestly,” he said. “It's about Chad and Trey getting back into it. We will have one before Delaware, obviously, but not under any timeline.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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