A football team spends so much time together and experiences so much that in a lot of ways they become like brothers.
Current Pitt walk-on wide receiver Michael Vardzel will be playing with a real family member next year because today his brother John announced that he’s accepted Pitt’s offer to join the team as a walk-on next year.
John is a wide receiver from Charleston, South Carolina that moved to Western Pennsylvania last February and attended North Allegheny High School last season.
“I came to North Allegheny because I wanted to play in the WPIAL,” Vardzel said. “I talked to Coach (Art) Walker and actually tried to get here prior to my junior season but I decided to wait until my senior season.”
Following his season, Vardzel received an offer to play at Georgetown and opportunities to walk-on at Virginia and Penn State but in the end, thought the chance to Pitt was his best option.
“I came to a football camp at Pitt over the summer and they really liked me,” Vardzel said. “Later on, probably in October, is when they really started to contact me. (Receivers) coach (Kevin) Sherman and I talked practically every week from that point until now. I visited there a couple of times with my brother and have had the chance to talk with (Offensive coordinator Shawn) Watson and Coach Sherman.
“I just feel that Pitt is really a family culture. All the coaches are really respected and like by my brother and the rest of the players. Coach (Pat) Narduzzi is a really respected coach and I really like and am excited by what he has going on there now and felt this is where I would have the best opportunity to play.
“After talking with Coach Watson, I feel like I’ll have an opportunity has a slot receiver. I also want to try to contribute on the punt return team and believe they’ll be chances there for me. I just want to help contribute in anyway I can.”
Vardzel, who is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, believes he can help out eventually in the passing game and has a skill set similar to a couple of productive well-known receivers in New England, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
“They want to use me in the slot and I believe I can be a dependable receiver. My speed (he has ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash) and ability to catch the ball in traffic are things that stood out to some school,” Vardzel said. “Plus, my ability to get open and find small holes in the secondary. I believe that I can be a player that can do a lot of small things especially on third down.”
The opportunity to play and his relationship with the Pitt coaches is nice, but the chance to once again be on the same football team as his brother, Michael, was something that John couldn’t and wouldn’t pass up.
“It means everything. We’re as close as brothers can get, growing up we’ve played on the same teams as each. We played baseball and also football together, when I was a sophomore and he was a senior in high school. People always told us that we’d never get the opportunity to play with each other and be teammates again and that we should cherish it,” said Vardzel.
“I’m just so grateful that I have the chance to play with him again.”