PITTSBURGH — Pitt quarterback Ricky Town’s last month has been a whirlwind.
Town was on a visit to a different school on the last weekend before the early signing period opened on Dec. 20 when he got a call from the Pitt coaches, who wanted him to leave that school and take an abbreviated visit to Pitt.
Town did so, and a day later, he gave the Pitt coaches his verbal commitment. The attraction was mutual for several reasons. Town’s recruitment had been “a little bit slow” coming out of Ventura Community College.
Out of high school, Town had first committed to Alabama, then flipped to Southern Cal and transferred to Arkansas before the season started. Pitt was an opportunity for him to get back to playing at a high level after a year in junior college.
The Panthers desperately needed an arm after the transfers of Ben DiNucci and Thomas MacVittie, and they wanted one that would be able to graduate at the semester break and enroll early.
Town fit the bill. The California native enrolled at Pitt at the beginning of January and has spent the last few weeks adjusting to everything from his class schedule to the weather to picking up Shawn Watson’s offense.
It’ll only be about another six weeks before Town will be throwing live reps in spring practice. That’s one of the biggest reasons the Panthers brought him in. Town, Kenny Pickett and walk-ons Tyler Zelinski and Jake Zilinskas are the only four passers the Panthers will have this spring, so Town will be expected to hit the ground running.
“I’m excited for that,” Town said. “My college experience has been a little unique, but I think it’s made me a better person. … I think I’m definitely
well-rounded well as a person and as athlete so I’m excited.”
Town will be learning his fourth college offense in four years, so that part of it — along with fitting into an offense full of new faces — is nothing new to him.
“I’ve definitely done this before: gone into a new program and figured things out,” Town said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of guys and competed with a lot of different quarterbacks.”
Besides being a live arm for spring practices, competition will be Town’s biggest role for the Panthers between now and when the 2018 season starts. Town’s job will be to push Pickett and help make the young starter a better player.
“What makes your football team great is competition,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said in December. “What you want at that quarterback spot is guys that want to compete. If you’re just going to stay the same and you want to be a backup, that’s great, but I want a guy that wants to push Kenny.”
Town certainly has the physical tools. He was a five-star recruit out of high school and was lauded for just about every skill that a quarterback can possess. Here’s a scouting report from T.J. Gaynor of The Sporting News when Town was in high school:
“Amazingly accurate on the run. Throws with tremendous touch on the move regardless of whether he’s running right or looping left. .. Perfect play-action fakes and attention to detail with all his ball-handling mechanics. Understands how to influence the back seven with both his shoulder movements and ball extension. Rare ability to deliver the ball on the money coming out of blind action pass fakes. Rifle shot release. As ‘live’ an arm as you’ll see in a high school player. Town really can rip it.”
Town spent the last year getting back into the rhythm of playing at Ventura and if he can bring that talent to the forefront with the Panthers, the competition could become much more real than signing day talking points.
“That’s when it gets good,” Watson said. “The best is going to play.”