Growing up a Pitt fan, Will Connelly dreamed about having a chance to play college football for his favorite school. Beginning next fall, the Beaver Area kicker will get a chance to live out his childhood fantasy and run out of the tunnel at Heinz Field.
Yesterday Connelly made his verbal commitment to play football for the Panthers. He is just the latest recruit to commit to Pat Narduzzi’s Class of 2018. One of the top returning kickers in the WPIAL, Connelly was 47 of 49 extra points and 2 of 4 on field goals, helping Beaver Area ascend to the top of the Pennsylvania’s Class 3A.
Though most kickers do not usually commit to a school prior to their senior year, Connelly felt he couldn’t let this opportunity slip out of his grasp to play for his favorite school.
I have been a Pitt fan forever,” Connelly said. “Having the opportunity to play for a team that I grew up watching was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Connelly was also drawn to Pitt by the way Coach Narduzzi runs his program, liking his focus of every detail within the team.
“He is a great coach and not someone who will go on yelling for hours,” Connelly said. “He is focused on everyone getting better as a unit.”
Heading into this year’s fall camp, the Panthers will be looking to replace all-time kicking leader Chris Blewitt, who was lost to graduation. Right now it is a threeway dance to determine the Panther’s new kicker with redshirt freshman Alex Kessman the current favorite to win the job. Walk-on junior Ian Troost and preferred walk-on Jake Scarton will also be vying for the kicking spot.
Though Connelly may enter next season fourth on the Panther’s kicking depth chart, he is just thrilled to have the opportunity to play.
“They offered me a chance to go and compete and that’s what I plan on doing,” Connelly said. “I’m just happy to have a chance.”
Last season was a tough pill to swallow for Connelly and his Beaver Area teammates. After being ranked as the number one team in Class 3A, the team looked like a lock to make the playoffs, but the new WPIAL football alignment only allowed three teams from each conference to make the playoffs. An end of the season loss to Beaver Falls pushed the Bobcats out of the playoffs despite an 8-2 record.
In preparation for this coming season, Connelly and his teammates have been working to make sure they don’t live through the same nightmare as they did last season.
“We have been working hard during spring and summer workouts to make sure we do not have to go through that again.”
If you are a Pitt fan in Beaver County or close by, make sure you check out this newest Panther this fall.