On Monday, Pitt landed a big transfer in former four-star quarterback Joey Yellen from Arizona State.
Yellen (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) will begin practicing with the team in spring workouts but won’t be eligible until to play in game action until the 2021 season, when he’ll presumably compete with Davis Beville and Nick Patti for the starting quarterback position.
Last season as a freshman at ASU, Yellen was 28 of 44 for 292 yards and four touchdowns against USC before suffering a shoulder injury. It turned out to be his only action of the season. So despite being a highly rated recruit, Yellen is still a bit of an unknown to most people.
However, one person that is familiar with him is former Pitt wide receiver Yogi Roth, who is the lead analyst for the Pac-12 Network and a resident of California, as is Yellen. Pittsburgh Sports Now had a chance to talk to Roth in order to gain some insight on Pitt’s possible quarterback of the future.
“I think it’s a great get and a nice fit for Pitt,” Roth told PSN, “The natural comparison, mindset-wise is, he’s going to remind everyone of Tyler Palko in terms of his approach to the craft. Yellen is a kid that grew up with Peyton Manning posters all over his wall. He’s a complete processer of information. He can manipulate defenses at the line of scrimmage prior to the snap and post snap. In his one opportunity in major college football this year against USC, he played pretty well and played as well as he could for a young guy in his first start.
“Joey did not flinch in terms of the competition at Arizona State. They signed three quarterbacks and Chase Daniels eventually ended up winning the job, but he competed through all of that and everyone on the staff raved about him, his work ethic, his commitment to the craft, the way he got along with his teammates and the way he prepared. Then, he ended up doing what everyone knew would happen, including the staff who knew that all three quarterbacks wouldn’t end up being there, depending on how the quarterback situation shook out.
“Pitt is getting a guy who, above the shoulders is really talented and is a really good pocket passer. I don’t think he’s going to beat you in the zone-read game or with his legs. I like that move for Pitt and believe that’s going to make them better and he’s going to push the incumbents and make that quarterback room better.”
Yellen left a program with Herm Edwards, who had plenty of NFL experience and is joining one with Mark Whipple, who also has spent time with the pros. Roth sees that new relationship working out.
“Joey is one of the all-time leading passers in California Orange County,” Roth said. “That’s what Joey is, he’s a pure passer. He’ll be able to walk into the ACC and talent alone, just thinking real quick, his game reminds me a bit of Sam Howell, maybe a bit more of a pocket passer than Sam is. Since he’s not really a dual threat quarterback, Pitt will rely more on the passing game with Joey.
“I just think he’s going to be a great fit because he can play the position really well. Right now, I think it’s really easy to play catch and really hard to play quarterback because of trying to understand defenses, trying to understand the reasons for things and why plays work and although I haven’t talked in depth with Joey, I have talked to their coaching staff and watched him operate at practice. To me he’s a guy that processes things really well.
Unless he wins an appeal from the NCAA, Yellen must sit out the 2020 and would have three seasons of eligibility, starting as a redshirt sophomore in 2021.