I was surfing old Pitt articles in the Sports illustrated magazine this morning trying to get some push towards writing an article for this Monday lunchtime hour.  I came across a few articles about Pitt quarterbacks Dan Marino and Rick Trocano and started thinking about how back in the day players would be demoted or moved to other positions and you rarely heard a peep out of them.  They would just suit up and carry on in a different job.

Very few players who had been recruited over in a specific position threw up their hands and transferred out back then.  Yet we see that happen all the time now. Mark Myers, a big strong armed highly rated QB recruit by one recruiting service – not so much by the others – came to Pitt under Dave Wannstedt and never really bought into the energy and desire required to succeed at this level.

After muddling around and being not played by two different HCs he transferred to John Carroll college and had a blast in the less pressurized atmosphere where all he had to worry about was throwing the football around and dating different co-eds.  He seemed to thrive at both and set school passing records there.

Just recently we watched ex-starting QB Chad Voytik leave the team because he lost his starting job.  Fans looked at that and figured he wanted more starting playing time elsewhere, naturally assuming that if he dropped to a lower level of competition he’d be a starter again.

It didn’t work out that way for him.  He went to Arkansas State as a graduate transfer (eligible to play right away) and ended up playing sparsely and on the bench mostly in the letter half of the year.  Boy – we could have used him in the 2nd half of the Pinstripe bowl though. I don’t doubt he could have pulled a win out there.

Just lately we saw QB Adam Bertke leave Pitt when his prospects closed down in front of him.

So now with the 2016 season just ending it looks like we’ll have some more movement in the QB roster ranks before either Spring practices start or most certainly before the 2017 fall camp starts.

In the past Pitt has usually carried three scholarship QBs on roster with a walk-on or two added to the group.  Here is what we had going into 2011:

Trey Anderson QB FR
Anthony Gonzalez QB RS FR
Mark Myers QB RS FR
Tino Sunseri QB RS JR

Before the fall camp dust settled Gonzalez was moved to LB where he did a nice job and we kept three scholarship QBs.  That is about the norm. 

However coming out of the 2016 season we have this at present and all are scholarship kids:

Bo Schneider 6-3/225 QB SO
Manny Stocker 6-2/215 QB RS SR
Thomas MacVittie 6-5/225 QB FR
Nathan Peterman 6-2/225 QB RS SR
Ben DiNucci 6-2/215 QB RS FR

Delete Peterman and Stocker from the list due to graduation and add recruit Kenny Pickett and transfer Max Browne and we see this going into the April drills:

Bo Schneider 6-3/225 QB SO
Kenny Pickett 6-3/190 QB FR
Thomas MacVittie 6-5/225 QB FR
Max Browne 6-5/220 QB RS SR
Ben DiNucci 6-2/215 QB RS FR

Again, all five are on scholarship as we speak – that won’t hold.  Even though we have heard reports of Bo Schneider leaving the program I can’t find any formal release stating that… but lets delete him because that sure will happen sooner or later.  Unless Schneider wants to keep on the roster as a walk-on and get a Pitt degree; which is an excellent idea, he’ll probably move on to somewhere else.

Which will leave us with four scholarship QBs. One too many in the long run.  But this is also where fan’s speculation can start to show some creativity.

I believe that fan’s expectations for 2015 recruit Thomas MacVitte is very high and I can’t either agree with it nor really understand it.  At 6-5 and 225 he’s a big kid and he did go to a good football high school in Moeller of Cincinnati, but after that I wonder where the unbridled optimism comes from.  Here is his recruiting offers page:

School Interest Offer Visit
Pittsburgh Committed(3/26/15)  * 1/15/16
LSU Medium * None
Cincinnati None * None
Miami (OH) None * None

That’s it folks and that LSU offer consisted of a single late in the game ‘test the waters’ phone call just to see how committed he actually was.  I’ve watch MacVitte in warm-ups and some drills and think he’s just about right as a three-star, not so highly recruited kid. He played only one year of starting ball in HS meaning he didn’t beat out the other starters before his SR year and he did OK in his singular year of play.

I list all of that because those are the reasons Pat Narduzzi and then-OC Matt Canada scrambled around to get not just one other transfer, but two QB transfers and a reporting-early 2017 recruited QB.

In addition to those personnel moves something happened in the Pinstripe bowl and the weeks that led up to it that made me scratch my head and sit up a bit. 

When Nate Peterman went down with a concussion that day we didn’t see the player who had been taking the QB2 snaps all season long in Manny Stocker.  Instead Narduzzi rotated Ben DiNucci into the QB2 position a week or so before the bowl game and had him taking the 2nd string snaps in bowl preparation.

Why is that interesting? Because Ben DiNucci doesn’t have all that great starting  D1 QB prospects and that move surprised a lot of people at the game and up in the press box. You would have thought the more talented Stocker would have gone in relief to try for the win, instead we sent in a QB who was an afterthought all year-long and played like it that afternoon. It was basically a “What the hell?” moment in Pitt history.

So here is some big speculations and let’s understand that’s what this is. Speculation on my part.

Let’s start with why did Narduzzi and Canada do that with DiNucci?  Why sit down the incumbent relief QB Stocker for someone who hadn’t taken a snap yet at all and then play him in the latter part of an important bowl game we were behind in?

One reason maybe that Stocker can’t be in the future plans and so they threw a bone to DiNucci to keep him on roster.  DiNucci has a few years left if he decides to stay in the program.  I say “if he decides to stay” in the program because DiNucci was both transferred-in over and recruited over in the two years he’s been on the roster.  So they give him some snaps in a game that had loss written on it from the starting whistle almost.

MacVitte sure wasn’t going to have his redshirt burned for that one game at the expense of a  full year of later  eligibility if he does pan out for the future at Pitt.  That BTW isn’t a given at all to happen.  He could well drop down the depth chart as well as rise in it.

When Narduzzi went out and grabbed Max Browne for 2017 and then convinced Kenny Pickett to report early he sent a message to the other QBs. Nothing is etched in stone and we’ll play to win each season on its own.  There won’t be any season long on-the-job learning with this HC.  Every QB he has played so far has at least a years experience as a D1 QB.

Incoming recruit Pickett is an interesting guy as he had a lot more scholarship offers than MacVitte did coming out of HS.  I think we need to take his early presence at Pitt as serious competition for the future.  If not, the program wouldn’t have enticed him to get into the Southside facilities so soon (it costs $$$ to bring kids in early folks).  Here are Pickett’s offers:

School Interest Offer Visit
Pittsburgh Committed * 12/9/16
Boston College None * None
Buffalo None * None
Coastal Carolina None * None
Connecticut None * None
Iowa None * None
Monmouth None * None
North Carolina None * None
Temple None * None
Texas State None * None
Toledo None * None

So skipping over what we all believe will be Max Browne’s starting season in ’17 and going into 2018 we’ll have DiNucci as a rsJR, MacVitte as a rsSO and Pickett as a rsFR – assuming that Bo Schneider has by then gone onto greener pastures. 

What will be the very interesting situation to watch is which QB not named Browne rises to that QB2 position and takes the practice snaps during the latter part of this year’s fall camp and into the 2017 regular season.  My thoughts about DiNucci not being up to the task may be off base if he gets constant and regular practice time and catches the eye of a new OC.  Give any kid a year of solid practices and show your staff’s faith in his abilities and anything could happen.

I don’t believe that will be the case but who knows?  I didn’t think DiNucci would get playing time in the bowl game either.

But I’m not 100% convinced it will be Thomas MacVitte at the helm in 2018 either. DiNucci has already gotten playing time; Pickett may be just as capable (in my eyes) of starting as a rsFR as anyone else on the roster and, as stated above, a new OC may well come in and change the offense around so that any of those three QBs could grab that starting slot in a year from now.

What may happen also is that either DiNucci or MacVitte may cut their losses and look elsewhere for solid playing time. We saw that with Myers and Voytik and we may well see it again sometime down the road.

Narduzzi has already brought in a total of three transfer QBs in his short two years at Pitt and who’s to say he won’t do the same thing after the 2017 season?  He’s not one to care about anyone’s feeling when planning for the future, that’s for sure.



325 thoughts on “Are QB Decisions Now Changes Later?

  1. Take your average crappy bowl game and think why coaches love to go to them. Don’t think too long, it’s the extra practices. Why would you waste a single rep on a QB who didn’t play much in the season and is gone already? It wasn’t stupid giving the reps to Benny. Obviously Narduzzi agrees with me. Stocker wasn’t any better anyways.


  2. Grizzly1,
    “Regular season games are more important than bowl games” HUH? REALLY?
    I guess Pitt’s beating Clemson during the regular season was more important than the Fiesta Bowl win where Clemson beat tOSU to play last night????


  3. I know our DB s have taken a beating this year, but even Bama’s DBs had got torched by the much taller Clemson receivers. Also found it interesting that the announcers said Bama had no depth on defense! How is this possible with all the 4 &5 stars they have?


  4. Well, after last night’s game the National Champion Clemson is 14 and 1. What does that mean for Pitt?

    We’re number 1, We’re number 1!


  5. I wondered that too Larry…..and the fact that their starting RB was out. They have to have four 5* players at that position. Even we have good depth at RB.

    I laughed about how the great Bama defense gave up 3 rushing TD’s all year but 2 last night and over 500 yards on offense. Maybe it’s just the pathetic offenses in the SEC.


    Bama has 17 WR’s on their roster.Wake up Mr. Foster….



  6. Minnesota: Western Michigan offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will follow P.J. Fleck to Minnesota in the same role, according to The Star-Tribune.

    Cross Ciarrocca off the list for Pitt OC – PA guy with nice play calling abilities…

    PJ now has two OC’s on staff after one week’s work in assembling his staff.

    Pittsburgh: Still waiting for an OC candidate to emerge…


  7. Wouldn’t be surprised if Napier is the new OC. Not a guy with great OC experience, but well connected on the recruiting trail and has been apart of two of the best programs in the land – ‘bama and clemson.


  8. @newbk-I wasn’t saying it was a mistake for D. Jeter to try and beat out 7 dl….in his class. Need to understand numbers and where the other kids come from. Urn gives Ohio kids the benefit of the doubt because he knows the majority of his recruiting is based in Ohio. Same with Harbaugh. These kids have a very short window to make it at the big programs. They don’t make it, they lose. They make it there, they would have made it anywhere.

    But don’t ask R Foster if he or any other would have done it differently because the egos of kids and parents won’t allow for the truth. Personally, I don’t care because it doesn’t matter to me. I get nothing out of where an 18 year old decides to play a sport. I do speak the truth as I know it from being close to 2 big programs.

    @Reed- a bit premature on the QB situation and I’ll stick with that thru the spring game although it may be hand-off city if we don’t get an OC soon. Browne could be a superstar and we catch lightning in a bottle. My thought is that he is clearly needed to take the heat of the 99k at the dairy college. He has played or at least seen 100k in a stadium. Our other QB ‘s haven’t. Production to me is measured in wins…


  9. Jackagain,
    Clowning is officially > 20 pts difference….what Syracuse was doing to us. 57-45 is what Syracuse ended up doing to us–sous clowning.


  10. Pittman4evr, (5:48, 10 Jan)

    It’s all about context isn’t it? I’d agree with you if Pitt was playing for the NC.
    Hasn’t happened in 41 years.


  11. I was thinking the same thing HUFF when Reed opined that our QB production will take a step backwards this year. Who knows?

    I sure feel a lot more secure now knowing Max Browne is a Panther. The thing about the college game that I’ve always enjoyed is watching the emergence of new talent when they get their chance on the field. Our last home run guy as a true freshman was Tyler Boyd. Who didn’t enjoy watching Sam Darnold beat PSU in the Rose Bowl? RS freshman, really?

    So here’s my opinion. Our 2016 recruiting class is filled with kids that have the potential to be game changers. None of the true freshmen that did play this past season had the impact that Boyd had as a freshman but 2017 now pulls the wraps off another group of RS freshman in this recruiting class. It will be interesting to watch.

    The defense will be most effected with this injection of youth, but make no mistake about it, the offense has a couple newcomers who could be immediate game changers. Obviously, MacVittie was the next QB in wIting before we snagged Max Browne from USC ( Thanks Sam Darnold!) but I’m not sure MacVittie has to accept riding the pine because of it. Darnold beat out Browne at USC & that just may be the case here at Pitt too if Thomas is energized by the new competition provided at the QB position with the addition of Browne to the roster.

    A QB doesn’t perform in a vacuum however, and Pitt’s supporting cast looks to be even better to me going forward. Look it, is Henderson going to be better in 2017? You bet! Same with Weah. Can you imagine how Mr. Stonehands Weah confidence has improved after last year’s production? Both Ffrench & Mathews saw the field as true freshmen, although in limited action. They will both blossom in 2017 as sophomore receivers.

    Then you have Flowers waiting to blossom himself (nice segue huh?). This kid could actually show up as a miniBoyd this coming season in a support role to Weah as our second WR.

    Then we’ve got a real wildcard in the mix, Chris Clark. This guy was rated as the #1 TE in the country when his class was being recruited. Consider that for a moment? When was the last time Pitt snagged a #1 recruit in the nation at any position? I can’t recall one. If Clark is even remotely as good as his press clippings predict then we have a guy who is more than able to follow in Orndoff’s footsteps without missing a beat! And remember this isn’t a kid right out of HS. He’s already seen the field and he’s been training here at Pitt for an entire year waiting for eligibility.

    The only question really is, “do we miss Biz & Jihnson on the OL”? Thanks to Paul Christ, I say no. That is one position that Chryst recruited well & we will just “reload” this season on the left side of the line. No worries.

    So why is Reed anticipating the WB to take a step backwards, I don’t get it. There is no basis for such trepidation. The only real issue is hiring the right OC. I trust that Coach Duzz finds the guy necessary to keep Pitt’s juggernaut offense firing on all cylinders.

    Yeah, I know brimming with optimism again. Why not?


  12. My God, quit the sky is falling BS because an OC wasn’t hired yet. Look where PSU go there OC from. There are tons of guys out there that none of us know of.

    Speaking of which, if Pitt would have hired a guy from a little shit school, you all would have shit the bed. Turned out pretty good for them.


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