Pitt landed a commitment from Arizona State quarterback transfer Joey Yellen on Thursday, adding a passer to the recruiting cycle after failing to land a freshman in the early singing period.
That’s been a common theme for Pitt under Pat Narduzzi. Since he arrived in 2015, Yellen makes five transfers at quarterback from other FBS schools, three of which were scholarship players.
That trend goes along with the national one. More and more quarterbacks are transferring every season. According to 247 Sports, 65 quarterbacks have already made clear their intention to transfer to or from an FBS school at this point in the offseason. Last offseason, 123 quarterbacks transferred to or from a Division I team.
Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s a panacea. Of the four previous Division I transfers to come to play for Pitt under Narduzzi, only one seemed to work out for both sides.
Max Browne won a starting job in 2017, but struggled through half a season before being injured. Jeff George, Jr. left a starting role at Illinois, transferred to Michigan and then to Pitt in one offseason only to throw a grand total of three passes over two seasons for the Panthers. Bo Schneider left after playing as a freshman at UCF, and never played again in stops at Pitt and Texas A&M.
But when it works, it seems to work out really, well, at least for the Panthers. Nate Peterman is No. 9 on the team’s all-time passing yards list despite only starting for a season and a half. In 2016, Peterman produced the fourth-most passing touchdowns and 10th-most passing yards for a Pitt quarterback ever.
In 2013, Tom Savage had the sixth-most yards and eight-most passing touchdowns, putting both firmly in the Top 10 seasons when it comes to Pitt passers.
Part of the reason for that can be attributed to the high talent level of transfer that Pitt has been able to land. Savage was a consensus four-star and the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2009. Peterman was a consensus four-star and the No. 17 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2012. Browne was a consensus five-star and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2013.
Compare that to the players Pitt has landed out of high school, all consensus three-stars. Davis Beville was the No. 22 pro-style quarterback in 2019, Nick Patti was No. 31 in 2018, Kenny Pickett was No. 33 in 2017, Thomas MacVittie was No. 18 in 2016 and Ben DiNucci was No. 65 in 2015.
Yellen continues that trend. He was a consensus four-star prospect and the No. 9 pro-style passer in the Class of 2019.
As we’ve seen, there’s no guarantee transfers will work out, but if this one does, it represents an opportunity to pay off in a big way. Futhermore, Yellen’s three seasons of eligibility will make him unlike any transfer Pitt has had before.