Pitt’s Kenny Pickett Opts Out of Peach Bowl to Prepare for NFL Draft

In announcing his decision, Pickett thanked his coaches, fans and teammates for their support over the years.
Pickett

PHOTO: PITT PANTHERS FACEBOOK PAGE

After leading the Pitt Panthers to their first-ever conference title with the ACC championship trophy, quarterback Kenny Pickett announced Thursday night that he won’t play in the Peach Bowl, opting instead to focus on his future in the NFL.

“To the University of Pittsburgh, thank you for all that you have given me over the past five years … To the fans, thank you for all your support throughout my career. I am incredibly proud to say I was a part of the team that brought another trophy to the City of Champions,” Pickett said in a statement. “With love and gratitude, I have decided to forgo the Peach Bowl and begin training for the 2022 NFL Draft.”

Pickett also thanked head coach Pat Narduzzi, former offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, and his teammates, and said he looks forward to keeping those bonds as they move into the next chapter of their lives. The recent departure of Whipple, the team’s offensive play caller throughout much of Pickett’s college career, may have played a role in the quarterback’s decision. 

Pickett finishes his Pitt career with passing records in yards, touchdowns and completions — both all-time and single-season. With 4,319 passing yards and 42 touchdowns this year alone, Pickett has been called Pitt’s best quarterback since Dan Marino. Throughout his five-year career at Pitt, Pickett threw for 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns — both program records.  

“Thank you, Kenny Pickett. It has been an honor to be your head coach. From the time you arrived as a freshman five years ago, right up until the moment you walked off the field in Charlotte as an ACC champion, you have given the University of Pittsburgh absolutely everything you had,” Narduzzi shared on Twitter.

Multiple draft analysts have predicted Pickett will be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the 2022 draft, slated to begin on April 28. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Todd McShay ranked Pickett as the No. 1 available quarterback — an honor that, if true, could secure him a contract worth millions. In a mock draft, the Detroit Lions singled out Pickett, citing the “huge strides he’s made from the 2020 season.”

With Pickett out of the Peach Bowl, the Panthers will likely turn to Nick Patti, who has been Pickett’s backup for the past three seasons. Patti has completed 12 out of 14 passes for 140 yards in relief this season. The fourth-year signal-caller also completed 7 of 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in Pitt’s spring game, according to the Post-Gazette.

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