Pitt’s Kenny Pickett learns ‘between the ears’ QB skills from Mannings | TribLIVE.com

Pitt’s Kenny Pickett learns ‘between the ears’ QB skills from Mannings

Jerry DiPaola
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett gets off a pass as offensive guard Rashad Wheelers looks to block during the Blue-Gold spring game Saturday, April 13, 2019.

The first thing you notice about Kenny Pickett is his chest. It’s bigger than it was during his first two seasons as a Pitt quarterback.

Barrel-chested? Not quite, but Pickett said he’s gained 8 pounds since the end of the last season to 222 and admits he feels “bigger, stronger.”

“It’s something you can just tell, looking in the mirror,” he said. “(I) filled out a little bit more. A step in the right direction.”

But that’s only one part of Pickett’s game. He always has had enough physical tools to play quarterback in the ACC, but he just returned from a week at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., where he learned something just as important as having good arm strength:

How to think like Peyton Manning did during his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career.

“Peyton, we kind of clicked the first day,” Pickett said. “He saw me throw the first day, and at night, we sat down at dinner and talked for an hour. Really cool experience.”

Pickett was one of 45 college quarterbacks invited to the camp June 27-30 to serve as counselors and spend time with Peyton Manning and his brother, Eli. That’s a total of 32 years of NFL quarterbacking experience, and Pickett was there to absorb it.

“We had a chalk talk on Saturday where all the players could ask (Peyton) questions, anything we wanted, for an hour,” Pickett said.

“I took 10 pages of notes, didn’t pick my head up once. I’ll save that notepad and look back on that stuff as the season rolls on.”

Pickett said most of the talk with the Mannings centered on preparing for an opponent.

“How to watch film, his week (before a game), how he streamlined the information he saw in the film room. What’s the big difference between college and the NFL.

“Trying to soak up as much as I can from a guy like that. It will benefit me in the long run.”

During the day, Pickett worked with the young quarterbacks — his group included seventh- and eighth-graders — before the college players’ daily training session.

“How I see things and how he sees things and somewhat being on the same page, it definitely gives you more confidence in how you prepare and how you go about your business come Saturday,” he said.

There wasn’t as much talk about physical technique as there was what Pickett called “between the ears” instruction.

“Once you get to this level, there is no right or wrong way to do things,” he said. “Everyone has their own way they feel comfortable.

“Everyone out there can throw at an NFL level. Everyone has an NFL arm. But the thing that takes you to the next level is the film room. How you can take the knowledge from the classroom out to the field and play fast. That was the big thing I took from Peyton.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
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