How Did Our Conway Award Winners Do?

I’ve always wondered about how Pitt’s Conway Award winners did in their Pitt careers after receiving the honors. For those who aren’t familiar with the award here is a squib from Pitt explaining it:Clipping from York Daily Record -

“Until his passing in 1974, Ed Conway was the radio voice of Pitt football for four years and a tremendous friend and supporter of the Panthers program. In appreciation of his work, the football team presents an annual award in his honor to the most improved players each spring.”

Listed below are the winners for the last 10 years. Let’s rack our brains and award ‘star points’ to the players based on how we fans feel they did after the award was given to them. Let’s make it a choice of one through five stars like:  Ike – 4*, Tex – 2*, Rich in SC – 5*etc. For example I would rate RB Israel Abanikanda a 5* and LB Anthony McKee a 2* – both ends of the spectrum almost.

I’ve linked each name to their Google search page so we can refresh our memories on whether they sucked or were great. Isn’t it interesting that T.J. Clemmings won it for both offense and defense!


Karter Johnson, Nahki Johnson Named As 2023 Ed Conway Award Winners

2013 Offense: T.J. Clemmings (OL)
Defense: Tyrone Ezell (DL)

2014 Offense: T.J. Clemmings (OL)
Defense: David Durham (DL)
Special Teams: Todd Thomas (LB)

2015 Offense: Dontez Ford (WR)
Defense: Tyrique Jarrett (DL)

2016 Offense: Jester Weah (WR)
Defense: Shakir Soto (DL)

2017 Offense: Jaryd Jones-Smith (OL)
Defense: Elijah Zeise (LB)

2018 Offense: Connor Dintino (OL)
Defense: Anthony McKee Jr. (LB)

2019 Offense: Tre Tipton (WR),
Carter Warren (OL)
Defense: Phil Campbell III (LB),
Paris Ford (DB)

2020 Spring drills canceled due to COVID

2021 Offense: Israel Abanikanda (RB)
Defense: John Petrishen (LB)

2022 Offense: Daniel Carter (RB)
Defense: Bangally Kamara (LB

Note: Below is the list in shortened form if you want to cut & paste parts of it for your comments.

T.J. Clemmings (OL)
Tyrone Ezell (DL)
T.J. Clemmings (OL)
David Durham (DL)
Todd Thomas (LB)
Dontez Ford (WR)
Tyrique Jarrett (DL)
Jester Weah (WR)
Shakir Soto (DL)
Jaryd Jones-Smith (OL)
Elijah Zeise (LB)
Connor Dintino (OL)
Anthony McKee Jr. (LB)
Tre Tipton (WR),
Carter Warren (OL)
Phil Campbell III (LB),
Paris Ford (DB)
Israel Abanikanda (RB)
John Petrishen (LB)
Daniel Carter (RB)
Bangally Kamara (LB)


Pitt’s Quarterback Questions Somewhat Answered…

As Majors asked in a comment to the Spring Game thread – here is my very shaky stance on Pitt’s QB room…

As I look into my college Pitt football crystal ball I see a few things. Wait a second, let me get the two years of dust off of it first. OK, done sneezing, and here we go;

First off,   having no ex-USC QBs on our Pitt roster is a good thing. They have all sucked…yes, even Kedon Slovis. Here is the roll call of those USC guys Pitt HCs have pinned their hopes on – Max Browne, Ricky Town, and Kedon Slovis… Let’s go through them one by one.

Max Browne out for season with shoulder injury - Cardiac Hill

Enter 5* HS recruit Max Browne. The Golden Armed Someone who, while starting for Pitt, was lucky enough to play the 1-11 Rice Owls so he could have at least one dominate showing. In that game he threw for 410 yards and 4 TDs. The fact that Rice ended up 120th in Pass Efficiency Defense made a BIG difference there.

Unfortunately in his five other games at Pitt Browne averaged 14/21 for 117 yards – with a total of 1 TD and 2 INTs.  But hey – he was a 5* USC QB – right!!  I got pretty sick of the professional pundits saying “If he could only have stayed healthy…” Look we were 2-4 with Brown and after he was hurt 3-3 with DiNucci so Browne was no real big loss.  Wonder why we went 5-7 in 2017? Look no further.

New Pitt QB Ricky Town steps into 'unique' situation | Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette

Then we get 5* HS recruit Ricky Town: Came to Pitt via transfers from USC then Arkansas then Ventura, CA JC and finally stumbled over to Pitt. He completed 1 of 1 passes for 15 yards for an awesome QB rating of 226, albeit with a small sample of work. We ran a three-part series about him on the Pitt POV way back when. I had fun writing it and was truly sorry he was so bad at actually playing the game of football because his story was pretty compelling. Town left Pitt because of the California wildfires (I kid you not).  Here is that series about Towns football experiences if you are interested.  Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3.  Busted my ass writing that and it turned out well (and was printed elsewhere).

Then we have 4*HS recruit Keeeeeeedon Sloooooovis!! Kedon was just misunderstood here at Pitt. We all felt he could (please God) be another Kenny Pickett when in reality he was more like another Max Browne – but a bit better looking. Slovis had two decent games. One was a shoot out loss to Georgia Tech where he threw for 3 TDs and a late season win against Miami that had another 3 TDs passes.  He was just another transfer QB in a string of bad transfer QBs.Kedon Slovis explains decision to transfer to Pitt - Cardiac Hill

Of course, he had a very hard act to follow after Pickett’s record breaking season but the gist of his time in a Pitt uniform is that he was average at best. Not real surprised he cleared out his locker before the bowl game. I don’t know if that is true but you know what I mean – he wasn’t coming back under any circumstances.

The second issue about QBs is that starting a younger QB to give him (they/them, he/him, she/her, it, we/us, you) game experience so as to prep them for following years under center at Pitt is just decrepit old school thinking. Yes, I do engage in that and sometimes to a fault – but the reality is there is not any loyalty left in college football if there is any sort of positive incentive to leave (Right Mr. Fancypants Addison?)

With the NIL and the no-sit out a season Transfer Portal now there is no absolute guarantee that any young QB will stay at Pitt at all even if he starts early. Especially if he starts early at a school like Pitt because we are a mid-range program of the P5 schools. Yes, we are, even with the good last two seasons.

I have no doubt in my mind that if Kenny Pickett had his breakout year in his fourth (2020) season vice his Covid-allowed fifth season in 2021, he would have been gone to the highest bidder for that last season of eligibility. I really believe that and based on his shagging out of the 2021 bowl game it shows he does love that $$$. Don’t kid yourself – if Addison could get $3M then Pickett would have commanded a very high price for his on-field presence elsewhere. Color him Green & Gone.

So, grooming a young QB (hopefully one recruited and coached here at Pitt in his underclass years) has probably gone the way of old Pitt Stadium as something to be remembered fondly but never replicated. I just don’t see it happening any longer.

Now the third point.  I don’t like coaching staffs having already made up their mind about who is to be the starting QB even before spring practice starts. Rambling Man Phil Jurkovec was brought here by Cignetti to start and Narduzzi will not override that thought no matter how well the other QBs play. I truly believe that.

NCAA grants Boston College QB Phil Jurkovec transfer waiver

Here is a bit about QBs from the Tribune-Review this morning written by Jerry DiPaola:

Teammates have praised Jurkovec’s leadership skills, but here’s the question. Is he a better quarterback than Kedon Slovis, now at BYU?  Slovis has played in more games (38/24) and completed more passes than Jurkovec (836/416), who was a backup his two seasons at Notre Dame.

Slovis (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) has thrown for 9,973 yards, 13th among active FBS quarterbacks. Jurkovec’s total is 5,406 with a career completion percentage of 59.7%, compared to Slovis’ 66%.

Viewed from a specific lens, it should be noted that Slovis has played the bulk of his career at USC. Jurkovec (6-5, 215) spent three seasons at Boston College, the last behind a bad offensive line. Jurkovec is a threat to run (568 yards, including sacks, and nine touchdowns); Slovis has a negative rushing total (minus-218).

By the end of the season, Pitt was ready to move on from Slovis. If some coaches are being honest, they might express regret that Nick Patti didn’t get more of an opportunity.

Got that right Jerry!! Narduzzi is horribly slow to make waves in his offense because he has no real idea how it works.  Yes, he has Offensive Coordinators (OCs) to carry that load – but the problem with total delegation is that you take so many steps back from the situation you cannot make strong, quick decisions when necessary.

Competition is a good thing and IMO a HC should keep the starting QBs options open until there are 10 days left in Fall Camp. Look, the two best candidates for QB1 & QB2 are going to be known going into that camp. That is standard in every team’s fall camp plans regardless of what the HCs say publicly.

What that does is winnow down the QBs who are sucking hind tit as far as playing time goes and gives the two best candidates equal time to work against the best defenders Pitt has (D1 & D2) then  also work with the first and second string Pitt offenses (O1 & O2) to get their views on how the two QBs are doing (in the huddle, locker room, adversity, etc.) Good HCs do that – they solicit some upper classmen’s and team captains’ input on how the players actually are doing all around. They don’t just go by what their other coaches see in practice.

My though is that it would have been very nice to have SR Nick Patti back on the roster and competing for an honest shot at starting. At least he can move his feet when needed. I’m not sold on Jurkovec at all and when you end up on three different college rosters there is usually a reason the door is held open for you twice.  Maybe I’m wrong and he’s the next Tino Sunseri...who, by the way was actually pretty decent you Tino Haters! But I very much doubt he’ll be anything like the next Kenny Pickett.

As I said above – I was a bit removed from Pitt football the last couple of seasons, but still – as long as none of our QBs have this on their arms we’ll be in decent shape:

Tattoo uploaded by Joe • USC Trojans. (via IG - louieburger ...



POV’s 2023 Fantastic Frankcan Cup Tourney

Editor’s Note:  Here is Rick Caldwell’s (Erie) gracious invitation to this year’s Frankcan Cup Tournament. Rick runs the show year in and year out for the readers and golfers of the Pitt POV – and he does just an unselfish and wonderful job at it.  I’ll be there this year so hopefully there will be at least one golf cart that has a spare seat. That way I can watch some actual golf instead of just drinking for three hours!  Friends – if you haven’t been to one yet get onboard. It is true fun and fellowship and a great summer lead-in to Fran’s tailgates.

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Location:  Champion Lakes Golf Club, Ligonier, PA (where former Pitt men’s BB announcer and Hall of Fame Pirate Dick Groat is one of the owners of the club.)
Address: 4743 Route 711, Ligonier, PA
Phone: (724) 238-5440
Date:  Saturday, June 24, 2023
Time:  11am tee times with a shot-gun start (pig roast dinner served after golf)
Format: Four person team scramble golf tournament (18 holes) 
Cost: $85 per individual which includes golf and dinner – the club’s 19th hole will be open after golf for meal and drink at additional cost to you.)
Lodging: On-site Bed & Breakfast on the club property or within a few miles there are hotel options in Arnie and Ike’s hometown of Latrobe, PA USA. Here is the more detailed Facebook page for the B&B.
NOTE: The cost per player is the same as 2019 and 2021!!
If you choose to stay on-site, you can park your ride, open your trunk, remove your party
wear, pop that beverage and then Let’s Do It!! as Porky Chedwick used to say!
Prizes: 1st place team gets to hold the Frankcan Cup for the year plus individual prizes for the 1st place
team members, longest drive, closest to the pin, straightest drive and longest putt.
I look forward to another fun day of fellowship with good to great Pitt fans. To those who cannot attend this year’s outing, please know that you will be missed – we have always had a good time at these golf outings.




Pre-2023 Spring Game Thoughts…

Here is an interesting take by the Pitt News regarding our current QB situation going into the Spring Game. It was written by Brian Sherry, the Pitt News Assistant Sports Editor and I tend to agree with him. 

Although on one hand I do believe in coaching and training up the underclassmen to get a shot at being three or four year starters.  On the other hand with the craziness of the Transfer Portal changes, and with now not have to sit out a season after transfer, then who knows if that underclassman will ever be an upperclassman at the same school?

It is well written and should generate interesting comments…   

“Last offseason, Pitt football found itself in the midst of a quarterback battle.

Senior Kedon Slovis, who transferred to Pitt from USC, was the clear favorite and was a near-lock to gain the starting job. But redshirt senior Nick Patti, who played with the Panthers since 2018, did everything to prove himself capable of the role. The Panthers ultimately picked Slovis, which, at the time, seemed like the right move.

But everyone knows how that panned out.

Slovis was mediocre at best, throwing for 2,397 yards and 10 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Patti bided his time, working in the background for his moment to shine. At the end of the regular season, Slovis entered the transfer portal, allowing Patti to take the reins for the Sun Bowl. In the bowl game, Patti stepped up, leading Pitt to a 37-35 victory over UCLA and becoming a hero in the process.

It’s clear that Patti deserved the starting spot last year, as the writing was on the wall for months leading up to the 2022 season. Patti outplayed Slovis in the 2022 Spring Game and looked solid throughout summer practices. Phil Jurkovec

Now, nearly a year later, Pitt finds itself in another quarterback battle. Former Boston College redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec transferred to Pitt this offseason as the presumed starter for 2023. Christian VeilleuxBut there is another transfer quarterback that is turning heads in Pitt’s spring practices — former Penn State redshirt sophomore Christian Veilleux. To make matters even more complicated, Pitt also has returning redshirt sophomore Nate Yarnell competing for the starting job as well.

Jurkovec is the clear favorite to earn the starting job, as head coach Pat Narduzzi has recently hinted that the former Boston College student is at the top of the depth chart. But just because Jurkovec is the favorite does not mean he deserves to take the field in 2023.

Instead, the Panthers should go with Veilleux or Yarnell to lead the team next season.

Both are young and capable of leading the team for years to come. Jurkovec, on the other hand, only has one year of eligibility remaining. In college football, stability is at a premium, as rosters change on a yearly basis. By choosing Veilleux or Yarnell over Jurkovec, the program can build around their young quarterback and possibly have success for years to come.

And don’t think that Veilleux and Yarnell have not proven themselves capable of leading a team. Veilleux has a proven resume of performing well in a starting role. The former Penn State quarterback helped lead the Nittany Lions to a 28-0 route against Rutgers in his first collegiate game back in 2021. In the game, Veilleux threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

Veilleux saw limited playing time with the Nittany Lions in 2022, but made the most of his opportunities when they came up. In a game against Ohio, Veilleux went 6-7 on pass attempts and threw for 37 yards.

Penn State transfer quarterbacks also have a proven record of success with other teams. Former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis transferred from Penn State in 2021 and is now one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class. There is no telling whether Veilleux will end up like Levis, but the comparison is there.

Nate YarnellWith all the talk of Jurkovec and Veilleux taking the starting job, it’s easy to forget that Yarnell is still an option. The redshirt sophomore is completely capable of leading the Panthers to success in 2023. Last season, after Slovis and Patti were both injured, Yarnell stepped up against Western Michigan, throwing for 179 yards in one touchdown in a 34-13 beatdown of the Broncos.

Yarnell is also the only quarterback on Pitt’s roster returning from 2022. Jurkovec and Veilleux, who are both new transfers, will need to build rapport with teammates and adjust to campus. Yarnell, on the other hand, is already well accustomed to Pitt and will look to build on his experiences in 2022.

In all likelihood, the Panthers will select Jurkovec as their starting quarterback in 2023. The former Boston College quarterback came to Pitt as the presumed starter in 2023 and is showing no signs of losing his front-runner status. With Jurkovec’s skill and experience, he will probably do well in the Blue and Gold.

But, if Jurkovec slips up — either in the offseason or during the regular season — the Panthers should not hesitate to replace him with one of their younger options. It’s time that Pitt stops looking for transfer quarterbacks every offseason instead of developing a starter over the years.”

Editors Note: I’ll be attending the Spring Game on the 15th and hope to see a bunch of POVers before, during and after the scrimmage. Can’t wait especially because I need some to tell me who in Hell is on our team!

BTW all Pitt athletics fans should get the Pitt news delivered to their email in-box so as to see a side of the sports issues without any of the financial considerations that exist in the professional writings.  Just go to this link then see the gray box on the right side where you enter your email then click “submit”.  It is mailed out three times a week.