Pitt’s 2021 Preseason CFB Award Nominees

Think it might happen? Discuss…

Pitt senior quarterback Kenny Pickett and sophomore defensive tackle Calijah Kancey received recognition today from the Maxwell Football Club, which unveiled its watch lists for the 2021 Maxwell Award and Chuck Bednarik Award.

Pickett was named a candidate for the Maxwell Award presented to the college player of the year, while Kancey is up for the Bednarik Award, which honors the nation’s top defensive player.  

Pickett Maxwell Watch List

Pickett (Oakhurst, N.J./Ocean Township) enters his fourth full season as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. He ranks among the most prolific performers in school history, placing third all-time in total offensive yards (8,552) and fifth in passing yards (7,984). Pickett is eyeing Pitt’s longstanding career records in those two categories held by Alex Van Pelt, who compiled 11,267 pass yards and 11,148 total yards from 1989-92.

Pickett has directed five fourth-quarter comeback wins during his career, the most by a Pitt quarterback in 50 years. The last Pitt QB to accomplish the feat was Dave Havern, who also rallied the Panthers to five victories in the fourth quarter over the 1970 and 1971 seasons.

Kancey Bednarik Watch List

Kancey (Miami, Fla./Miami Northwestern) was one of the most decorated freshman defensive linemen in the country last year. He earned Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Rivals and The Athletic. He played in all 11 contests, collecting 27 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

The Panthers have a rich history with both awards. Running back Tony Dorsett (1976) and defensive end Hugh Green (1980) are prior recipients of the Maxwell. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the Bednarik in 2013.

The winners of the 2021 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the ESPN HomeDepot College Football Awards telecast on December 9. The formal presentations of the awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Tropicana Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on March 11, 2022.

Pitt football tickets for the 2021 season are now on sale.

82 thoughts on “Pitt’s 2021 Preseason CFB Award Nominees

  1. Great topic, Reed. I thought another rating service didn’t even have Pickett in its top 50 QBs category? But Kancey has already received recognition so no surprise there. Back to Pickett, it’s all on the line for him this year, and his career reputation as a Pitt QB will be determined this year. Was he a career bust, or a late bloomer? We will be discussing this on the POV for a long time…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ike,
    Inside that sun bubble on top of the Cathedral is the MPC

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kenny Pickett is a gamer! Period. Whenever he has been healthy, minus Clemson, Pitt has been in everyone of those games. He’s truly the difference maker. My expectation for him this year is to pass for 3,500 yards, 20+ TDs and under 7 INTs.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. VoR, there are 33 QBs on the Maxwell Award nominee list. It isn’t anything like the Heisman watch list or anything…the Maxwell Award preseason lists are notorious for trying to get someone from every major team on at least one of the O and D lists.

    It isn’t rarified air but nice to be picked for.
    In the last 20 seasons, from 2001 to 2020, we have had two major award winners… Aaron Donald and who else?

    Larry Fitzgerald in 2003!


  5. Tex, you heard it here first. Stadium on top of the COL.

    ECL, good call on Kenny.

    Reed, not PITT’s fault they missed on Revis? PITT sends their fair share of players to the NFL.

    Just made two good burgers on the grill, now ready for another two hour nap.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OT — This came out of nowhere, but made me smile.

    I was a senior at St Mary of the Mount HS in 1967. Our school only had a basketball team and a baseball team. That season our baseball team went 18 and 0 and won our league championship. I had the honor of pitching the championship game, which we won 2-1.

    So last week I received an announcement stating that our St. Mary’s team, which was described in the announcement as one of the best HS baseball teams ever to play on Mt. Washington, will be inducted into the Mt. Washington Hall-Of-Fame! (BTW, St. Mary’s HS occupied prime real estate on Grandview Avenue overlooking the Point and townhouses have been built where it once stood. )

    Now we went undefeated over 50 years ago, but this is still kind of cool. And as far as I know, the Mt. Washington Hall of Fame exists on paper only, but hey…

    So the big event will occur at a luncheon at the Le Mont next month. The Le Mont is big time! 😊. (BTW, when I was a kid, the Le Mont was a movie theater…)

    Not exactly Cooperstown, but still makes me smile…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Love the ale Mont. Go there during visits to home. Awesome restaurant and nice view.

      John, that award is quite an accomplishment. Enjoy feeling young again!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Eat em up, Ike! Love it and glad you are feeling the good vibes of this joint hittin you square in the heart. Good folks!

    Not to be negative, but Pickett was named to the same list last year as a first year senior, along with 39 other quarterbacks. I did hear that the Mannings have the tiebreaker on voting! Haven’t seen the list for this year yet and have not looked at it by design.

    I am somewhat surprised that some are saying that Pitt winning 9 games this year is all about Nardstop coming into his own as a coach. Reality is that Pitt should start out at a minimum 4-1, but probably 5-0. Some are saying that the easy schedule has nothing to do with it. Really? This will be the easiest OOC schedule Pitt has seen in a very long time and I for one am appreciative of the fact that we should get to 9 wins. That said, 9 wins is because of the easy schedule, not because of the Nardstop or Pickett. I am thankful if we get to 9.

    Also, someone was so nice to share an early mock draft over this last week. In it, one Pitt player, Deslin Alexandre was mocked to go in the 2nd round. No other Pitt player mentioned in the first two rounds. Go west and south a bit and Cincinnati has 3 players mocked going in the top 40 picks. I get it. This is an early mock nfl draft, but how does cincinnati with their football traditions (joke), develop high picks? This will elevate their recruiting if it comes to pass. What will Nardstop’s excuses be when being compared to OSU, WVU, PSU, UC and Rutgers?

    Tex – haven’t placed my eyes on your tasty article yet. Will give it a gander and marinate on it this weekend and provide some thoughts. May send to you directly as there is more at play and things I can’t delve into on the public forum.

    Golf – Agree with upitt. I can’t make Lancaster work, sorry. Nice place for those matriculating from eastern pa and balt/dc areas, just not good for me. I love the idea of relaxing with some tasty waves, cool buds, and watching some narly amish buggy races whilst downing some brewskies with the pov establishment, but not this year. Enjoy responsibly, folks!


    1. Spic-Huff-li,

      If they win only 6 this year, it will be their fault. Likewise, if they win 9, they get the credit. Door swings both ways.

      That said, not sure I see 9. I just don’t think HCPN has the chops to deliver better than 8. Would be happy to be wrong.


  8. You’ll like it Huff. It wasn’t meant to be too professional. I had some fun with it. But it is a serious piece.

    Feasibility is a low hurdle. The business case and selling the concept to the BoT and City is another matter.

    My seed could use a Tepper like rainfall. 🌧 🌩

    Or a Texas twister of support from prominent insiders 🌪


  9. There are talks on expanding the T and looking into other methods of transport while considering and keeping in mind the terrain and landscape of WPA


  10. I was there in 70, 71 and watched all of Dave Havern’s heroics. The big WVU comeback is burned into my brain! I still remember my soon to be girlfriend jumping all over me at the end of that game out of pure excitement. But I couldn’t name another come from behind win if my life depended on it. We just seemed to be totally out gunned so often.

    Dave if you are reading this I’m sorry for the lack of proper memory.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That comeback, weren’t we down 35-7 at the half, is a great memory for us old geezers. Was there with the Pitt babe who would become my wife.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes we were MajorMajors. I sat in the student section. Mass quantities of alcohol were consumed by half time. The joints were lit. I remember looking at that scoreboard and thing “Well this thing is over.” And then came little Davy Havern who was remarkable! He lit up the offense which lit up the defense. Yard by yard, pad by pass Pitt gained yards, many times just enough for a first down. And the defense was like concrete wall. And Pitt wins. Now, 50 years later it is, without a doubt, the greatest game ever played, in my mind anyway. That is when I became a Pitt fan. Awesome.


        1. AFH – agree with your characterization of the comeback. It wasn’t done with big yardage plays, it was methodical marching down the field on every possession with 3, 4, and 5 yard plays. I think we went for it on 4th down a few times and made it. One stop by WVU and they win the game.

          We go to games hoping to see something memorable, on the positive side, like what happened that fall afternoon. How happy were we walking down Cardiac Hill after that game!!! 👍

          Go Pitt.


    2. I was there too… hey 11-1, Dave Havern has been to Lastrow’s and Farmers tailgate…. Get yer ass there and you might meet him … great guy…

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Whipple does a terrible job of balancing the offense and adjusting it to the talent. He only thinks pass first.
    A QB is only as good as his OC. ☹️


    1. The good OC’s play call to their talent pool. The problem might be Pitt lacks talent on O (with all the drops, lack of run blocking, pass blocking, TE’s).

      Dan Mullen (PA guy – SEC coaching success) has a knack for adjusting his play calling to their talent, Jimbo Fisher, Lane Kiffin – even now that they are HC’s.

      I have friends who did not renew their season tickets and have mentioned if I plan to miss a game or two, I should reach out to them as they may buy a game or two from me.

      What used to be 35k for attendance will probably be 25k this season. The blame will continue to be COVID-19. My friends just gave up on Pitt FB. I’m not there yet – wish we had Peterman, Conner, Boyd and Canada on offense married with our current D.

      Wishing does not win games. Neither does Whipple’s O.



  12. The Pitt defense will definitely be better this season, the question mark is the offensive line, if they progress we can have a very good season and as I have noted the play calls will be made by Brennan Marion, he will be OC in 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So in your opinion whipple is out next season. Was Kenny coming back dependent on whipple staying? I might buy that hypothesis.

      Now if that’s the case, it’s not good long term for pitt. I would have rather broken in new quarterbacks this year. Kenny starting just delays their development.

      So we win 8 with Kenny. We win 6 without

      We win 4 next year cause Kenny came back this year

      We win 6 next year because pitt found their new QB this season and he got the reps.

      Both scenarios are 12 wins but one is obviously better long term


      1. College teams should always play two QBs. One 85-90%, one with special packages so he is use to action. PN never does it. Stupid.


  13. That was the road I was looking at.

    Then it’s even tougher than originally thought.

    They could lose every away game. Might not be favored in any of them.

    Home looks reasonable but duke and NC could also be ranked.

    The ACC is the premier conference for soccer. Don’t be surprised if pitt slips and struggles next season. I still think they get an invite to the playoffs though.

    Expect women’s soccer to surprise much like the men did last year. It’s their turn. Waldrum recruits well, Americans and canadiens, and has the best player in the ACC.


  14. With Pickett, Narduzzi is rolling the dice to get 9 wins this year. He needs this new high water mark even if Pitt wins only 4 games next year in a “rebuilding” year. Seven years without a 9 win season is not a good look for him.


    1. How is next year a rebuild?

      Most of the skill guys will be back sans Pickett, which is a biggie I’ll admit.

      The line has three seniors but two or all could return as super seniors. Branson Taylor will be ready to take over right tackle if needed.

      The defense will have a ton of experience and players returning. The D-line will have all the tackles and Morgan, Baldanaldo and Hayes on the edge. Linebacker has become deep and there are youngsters on the rise.

      The QB spot will be most important to fill and I don’t see close to only four wins.


      1. The back-up QB needs to see the field several times this season. In the Duzz era, that rarely happens with meaningful minutes.

        If there is a blow-out, either way (Pitt up big or down big), if KP is having a bad game or hopefully this does not happen but if KP is injured.

        Let me define a bad day:

        two 3 and out series in a row. Give a new QB a shot to spark the O.
        two INT’s in a half, the hook should be used.
        down 10 or more points at halftime and the 1st series is a 3 and out.

        I’m a KP fan – I think his grit, toughness and ability to escape pressure fit well in Pittsburgh. But he hasn’t really won many games – there are a few he gets credit for, but the win total is underwhelming.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. My advice to Kenny is find a school after graduation that runs the RPO outside the P5. Apply as a grad assistant. Then work your way to QB coach.

          Prove yourself and move up to a P5 school as QB coach.

          Prove yourself and get an OC position at a Non P5 school

          Prove yourself and get OC at a P5 school

          Prove yourself and get HC at a non P5 school

          Prove yourself and get a HC job at Pitt

          I call it Kenny’s 20 year plan


        2. Kenny is just as likely to twist or break his ankle running to the seidelines to get a play as he is scrambling on third down.

          Whipple needs flushed. He’s not even worth a wipe.

          I’ll buy everyone some Old Pappy upon his flushing.


        3. Agree Erie…KP lacks long ball accuracy and his receiving corp are suspect withy too many dropped balls…hopefully, the D doesn’t give up a late game lead or 2 and lose… Duzz is the D guru but…..(NCSU 2020 and Miami 2019)…I am just there for the party so I shouldn’t criticize the professionals


    1. The school, and most Pitt fans, don’t want to be on this kind of list.

      Remember, fans were glad Pitt didn’t get into a bidding war to keep Canada. So glad I went to school at Ohio State. You’re taught to take sports seriously there and learn player transgressions quickly pass. At Pitt, the 2010 SI article still floats around because miserable people want it to.


      1. I should have gone to Michigan. But Michigan underachieves like the England national soccer team.

        QB will make or break an offense. Schedule much tougher next year. Inexperienced QB. Many three and outs. Defense will get very tired come the 4th. I see four wins. Plus you’re always due the Narduzzi brain fart that costs you a game.

        So enjoy the eight wins plus bowl loss this season.

        I’ll never give up on Pitt football. I always hope that someday the chairperson of the BoT and AD thinks like this Texan.

        I minored in classics at Pitt. Pandora is a distant relative.


  15. I’ll personally set up a go fund me so whipple can modernize his play calling. The money could go towards those creative sign placards you see many schools use.

    A plate of meatballs plus a roll of charmin would indicate pass play, go route.


  16. Speaking of great Pitt wins. What are your top five?

    For me it’s the ones I attended. So nothing from the 70’s or early 80’s

    In no particular order. Again it’s the ones I saw live

    Last game at pitt stadium against the Domers

    The 12-0 penn state game at three rivers

    The 42-39 penn state game at Heinz

    That triple or quadruple OT game at West Virginia. I was very drunk and Chas has a good story.

    The beat down pitt gave Ohio state at pitt stadium.


    1. There should have been a lot of great wins and memories from 1990-2004 had Pitt stuck with Gottfried and gave football a chance. Mike loved to pass the ball and he conceivably could have had had all Western PA kids under center had he coached into the 2000s. After Van Pelt it could have been:

      Taneyhill 1993-95
      Batch 1996-97
      Bulger 1998-99
      Mike McMahon 2000-01
      Rod 2002-03
      Palko 2004

      If Gottfried coached to 2004 he still would not have been in his 60s yet. Crazy how young he was. He also had a screw loose, most likely due to how terrible Pitt administration was some of the Deans who wanted football to fail. Who wouldn’t go a little batty. Amazing the chancellor who saved football in 1973 allowed it to die in 1989 after failing with the coaching hire in 1982.

      Only at Pitt.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Bulger was certainly a big miss for Pitt. We also missed big on local kid Mike McMahon, the QB who went to Rutgers. He could play.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. McMahon was quietly a miss for Walt, who had just taken over. I think Mike got sucked into the Rutgers coach who came from the NFL as an assistant and promised him immediate playing time. Walt had a ton to sell with his background but Mike chose the Knights. He could have gone to Pitt, redshirted, and then started for the Panthers from 1998-01.

          Bulger was told by Majors he would never play D-1 football. Pitt football of the 1990s in a nutshell right there.


  17. OT: I think I recently saw somewhere that the Clemson DC just got a $2.5 million contract. Still think Narduzzi is overpaid?

    natebailey4, if Pitt gets fewer than 6 wins in 2022, Narduzzi will call it a rebuilding year solely because there will be a new QB. We will begin a new 4 year cycle where a whole new supporting cast of players must step up as the Pitt QB gains experience. I don’t see the recruiting success (except for last year) to support an 8 or 9 win season in the 3-4 years following Pickett’s departure. Will Narduzzi still be here? If not, there will still be another 3-4 years of mediocrity while some new coach tries to overcome SOP. So buckle up and hope for a 9-10 win season this year. It could be a long time before we see it again.


    1. Yes narduzzis overpaid because Pitt cannot afford him

      Clemson footballl revenues are $80 million roughly

      Pitt caps out at $40 million

      Narduzzi hogs 12 percent of the top line. Leaving nothing to hire quality coordinators.

      You know the saying about fat pigs.


    2. You don’t need to wait four years with a new coach.

      Any coach from my list will get er done in two.

      I’d raise the recruiting budget and change the ooc schedule. Real directors can do that’s

      But I know coaching. I was one.

      Pitt athletic leadership is inept. I’m putting it as nicely as I can.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Someone thinks highly of their coaching evaluation skills. lol

        Coaching peewee football doesn’t count as experience 😜


    1. Yes, JP. There is no sense in hiding it. The existing QBs on the current team, except for Pickett, are still a big question mark. The good teams in the ACC all start with their QB and fill in from there with good players. When you are looking to sustain a program 7 years in, there should be good depth at all positions so that the team can withstand a significant loss of players due to graduation or transfers. Clemson won’t fall off with Lawrence gone.

      Good players will transfer if they cannot see significant playing time ahead, and there better be some solid depth behind them. Pitt has some good players in its Freshman and Sophomore ranks, but not enough to sustain a program while an average QB gains sufficient experience to win. There is nothing wrong with wanting Pitt to be good for the long run. I just don’t see sufficient recruiting progress to say they have turned the corner.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Doesn’t Pitt have a couple of 4-star QBs behind KP? Now that guarantees nothing, but there is potential. If they don’t progress we’ll see a portal transfer coming in…

        Go Pitt.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll go a step further – if the back-up QB(s) don’t play meaningful minutes in 2021, there will be a dive to the portal.

          Developing is an artful process – game experience is huge. You cannot duplicate that in practice.

          I hear KP is a good practice QB where “touch” football is the actual game that is played.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. And Pitt will be left out of a super league if it doesn’t build that MPC. Why?

    Because pitt is on the very outside looking in right now

    And a MPC would show a very serious commitment to football and pitt would automatically become very attractive.

    Pitt becomes a girl that loses her glasses, takes down her hair and uncovers that nice rack.

    But Pitt thinks physical attractiveness is so dirty. She’d rather go through life without fun, unmarried with brains.

    I’m glad I didn’t marry that homely girl.


    1. Right, KP has an undergrad degree and is working on his Master’s. The kid is no dummy.


  19. Good for Kenny but I thinks he’s overestimating his value. I wouldn’t pay anything more that a bucket of Babes chicken for that K thing. And even then I’d donate to some kid in aspinwall.

    Babes is the best fried chicken joint in DFW hands down.


    1. I have seen you mention Aspinwall a few times in your comments.Do you have a connection to that borough?


      1. I lived in Aspinwall for a year after I got married. Basement apartment on Emerson… 👍


      2. Yes I do.

        Like most writers I try to connect and weave the story with certain areas.

        Like Indiana county where I grew up.

        The troll under the tarentum bridge. My parents live in lower Burrell.

        My sister and her family live in aspinwall.

        Now I have no ties to carrick but bless those kids for that pitt script at the 50


  20. After reading the SI article, I don’t see an easy answer as to how to fix college sports. I actually think that P5 separation would be a mistake. Everyone thinks that more is better, more money, more autonomy, etc. But maybe the answer is that less is better. Why should some schools be permitted to spend so much more (non-scholarship money) than others? I say they should tamp down football and use the extra money to field more minor sports.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. You make a compelling argument but I just don’t see the SEC settling for any changes that do not give it more control and more access to funding. I’m sure the Big Ten and Big 12 will be heard from as the three conferences pull in and send out the most revenue in college football. I agree that providing more money to minor sports, as well as NIL opportunities, is a more equitable way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Saban said that his QB Bryce Young has inked nearly 7 figures under NIL already. He hasn’t even started a game there. Pitt will never be able to compete with the big boys because most Pitt donors will never put up serious cash. NIL just make what has been going on as legal. How do you recruit against that.

    Liked by 2 people

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