One of the key positions Pat Narduzzi must replace for the 2017 season is kicker. Chris Blewitt, who became Pitt’s all-time leading scorer in 2016, was lost to graduation after an outstanding 4-year career.
Right now, the leader in the clubhouse to win the job is redshirt freshman Alex Kessman, who was placed on scholarship prior to the beginning of spring practice. He was joined on the roster this spring by walk-on junior Ian Troost, a transfer from Westminster College in Utah where he was a member of the soccer team.
While Kessman may still be the favorite, a talented walk-on freshman could give the Michigan native a run for his money.
Back in late March, Hickory High School (PA) kicker Jake Scarton announced that he would be joining the Panthers in the fall. Unlike Kessman, who played quarterback and safety while in high school, Scarton started playing football just two seasons ago after being urged to play since the team did not have a kicker. Despite not having the pedigree of his future teammate , the walk-on still expects to compete for the starting kicker spot.
“I just want to challenge whoever is starting and hopefully win a starting job,” Scarton said at Saturday’s NFBD All-Star Showcase. “I think I have a real good chance at making a name for myself in kickoffs. I wanna be right up there with the top field goal kickers. I wanna be accurate, I want to be with them.”
And just how accurate does Scarton want to be? Well, I’ll just let him tell you.
“I wanna be dead accurate inside 50, I wanna be Roberto Aguayo accurate,” Scarton said, whose career long at Hickory was 48 yards. “I just want to be consistent above all else.”
Scarton was joined by some of the top prospects from not only Western Pennsylvania but across the East Coast in the second annual all-star game at Highmark Stadium. Though his squad Team Movement fell to Team Never Fear 21-14, the Hickory kicker was given a chance to work on his onside kicking after his team fell behind early. Scarton chose to play in the Showcase for opportunities like this.
“I always want game experience,” Scarton said. “You can’t have a game holder or game snapper off the kicking sticks. This is the first game where I ever kicked off the ground and I feel comfortable with it.”
Scarton will return to Pittsburgh in July when the Panthers begin their annual fall camp, which he can’t wait for.
“It has always been a dream to play for the University of Pittsburgh,” Scarton said. “I can’t wait to be done there and playing football for them.”