Because this is a Blog and what I and Chris do on here is not journalism per se we can be personal and write our own opinions about Pitt football in more 1st person views and more positive and/or negative terms than can other Pitt football media sites.
The papers won’t do that in any detail – they keep the writer’s personal opinions almost 100% away from the readers. The free sites that carry sponsorship rarely will do it and the recruiting sites, save Rivals.com sometimes, shy away from it also.
But we ain’t them so we can toot our horn a bit on here… and go out on a limb.
So the POV is different and with that here are my personal thoughts on our current and future QB situation based on the string of reader’s comments we have had on the subject lately… most specifically addressing the underclassmen rsFR Thomas MacVitte and FR Kenny Pickett on the roster.
First off – look folks, when was the last time you heard rsFR Thomas MacVittie‘s name prominently and positively mentioned by anyone not named Ike? You really haven’t, especially in discussions of the Pitt QBs in general. For that matter when have we heard anything at all about MacVittie really after he signed his LOI back in Feb of 2016?
Hardly a word actually except in passing mention and never in any real context to playing time. That is understandable when MacVittie was a true freshman last season, but this year, when fans would expect there to be just a little buzz about him? Nothing at all.
I wrote after last season ended that MacVittie’s name was going to fade from hearing after Ben DiNucci played in the Pinstripe Bowl in front of proposed QB2 Manny Stocker and that’s what has happened. As surprised as I was that DiNucci went in – I also figured that was the vote of confidence that head coach Pat Narduzzi was giving DiNucci for the future.
If you recall it was soon after the regular season ended, two weeks before that bowl game, when Max Browne announced his transfer to Pitt back in mid-December. Between that news, and then DiNucci’s getting the call in the bowl game, it set the stage for the QB competition going into 2017’s spring practices. That was also when we started wondering if Tom MacVittie was even in the narrowing picture any longer for lack of his being mentioned in the news or elsewhere.
But ever since class of ’17 recruit FR QB Kenny Pickett enrolled in early in January to get a jump on the QB work here it seems like his name has usually been the first (or second) word out of everyone’s mouth – staff’s and sportswriters’ – when they discuss how the QBs have been playing. There is a valid reason for that.
He’s not only opened up eyes on the Southside but he’s also put smiles on all the right faces there- something we haven’t seen happen within the QB unit at Pitt in many years. He’s done that with his quick and good decision-making and his strong and accurate arm. And I mean strong and accurate arm. He’s 6’3″ and a now solid 225 or so pounds and looks the part when he’s behind Center or dropping back to pass.
Listed as a dual-threat QB out of high school he certainly is that and as we saw in the Spring game he’s a runner also. I liken his rushing ability to past Pitt QB Chad Voytik’s in that our OC (whoever that may be) can and will put in running packages to take advantage of his skill in that area.
So I’m telling you guys – just like I wrote two years ago when transfer QB JR Nate Peterman came onboard and almost no one but me was saying that not only was Peterman brought in to actually compete for the starting job (Pitt fans really didn’t believe that, they thought he was here to be a back-up ) but that he was absolutely going to steal the starting job from Voytik…
Remember that folks?
It was a huge topic of debate on the Pitt Blather back then, and I took a ton heat from readers and others about my confidence in that happening. Again – no fans and very few writers believed that switch would take place as everyone was firmly convinced Narduzzi would stick with the incumbent rsJR Chad Voytik.
But some of us knew 100% that the switch to Peterman was going to happen… and I stuck with that unpopular opinion even before the fall camp of 2015 started and then on afterward.
I also wrote back then 2015 when Peterman arrived that he was going to be a star QB for us based on the rave reviews I was hearing from the Southside and from conversations about Peterman with Pat Bostick, who knows a thing or two about QB play. I took a lot of heat for those predictions but stuck with them and we all saw what happened last year.
Now I’ve been writing constantly since January that the same inside buzz that Peterman had coming in is starting to surround Kenny Pickett in the Pitt camps, both in the Spring practices and now in the Fall camp. He’s that good folks – I believe he has the best arm on the roster now and will be, by far, the best passer we have next season.
Where as Browne has been not meeting expectations and then bumbling his chances at USC over the past four years – and that is exactly what happened from the time he got there – Pickett is going to grab the starting job here and be a three or four-year QB for us.
I’m stating that now and I’ll stick with it.
Here’s the bottom line with Kenny Pickett – you know how Danny Marino came to Pitt’s 1980 Fall camp and with his strong personality and super confidence grabbed control of the team right then, even if he didn’t start the first few games? how we saw that Marino had the attitude and the Mojo right away? That is I feel what Pickett is showing now – I firmly believe that.
Any successful college QB needs certain non-physical qualities to effectively lead an offense to be the best it can be out on the field. Three of those are Moxie, Character and Potential. Dan Marino had them in spades; Pickett has them as a true freshman now and that will continue to strengthen the longer he is on Pitt’s roster.
I truly think he has the “It” factor – a true quality QB needs to lead a team.
I’m sorry to say MacVittie just does not. If he did we wouldn’t be hearing DiNucci’s name at all this fall. And exactly the opposite has happen – it is MacVittie’s we aren’t hearing.
Is Kenny Pickett ready right now though, and do I think he is going to play this year? No, I don’t.
But If our season starts slipping away because of the QBs’ not being able to produce when needed and we are in danger of tanking I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see Narduzzi and Watson go directly to Pickett in relief- but I seriously doubt that will happen.
I believe the competition next season is going to be between Pickett and DiNucci for the starting and QB2 jobs, with MacVittie probably transferring for greener pastures and actual playing time.
That is not a far-fetched idea as we have seen transfers take place with many Pitt QBs lately from 4* rsSO Mark Myers to 3* rsSO Adam Bertke (three-time Ohio state champion) to 4* rsSR Chad Voytik. This is what happens when promising QBs don’t pan out as in Myers and Bertke’s cases- they leave for playing time elsewhere.
I wouldn’t bet too much of my money on DiNucci in that head to head competition. That is my early prediction on next Spring and Fall’s camps.
Here is a good up close look at Kenny Pickett coming out of HS after he committed to Pitt. Note those throws after the 1:30 mark – those are deep outs and longer passes the width of the field – around 25-30 yards and most on a string. When I had the chance this spring to get an extended 45 minute window at a practice I watched the QBs in actual plays very closely and that is a part of my opinion of Pickett’s arm. What you see in his arm in the video here is what I saw in game-like play drills against Pitt defenders.