PITTSBURGH — Quarterbacks are more important than just about every position or coach that is part of a football program or organization.
With senior Kenny Pickett getting one more crack as the Panthers’ starter in 2020, questions still surrounded Pitt and its lack of depth at the position for the future after the team did not take a freshman quarterback in the Class of 2020.
But one day before early signing day, Arizona State quarterback Joey Yellen put his name in the transfer portal on Dec. 17.
The Panthers pounced, reaching out to Yellen almost immediately. Two weeks later, he was committed to Pitt and a month later, he’s already on campus, taking classes and getting to know his teammates.
On that mid-December day, Yellen posted on Twitter that he was in the portal and “within an hour or two,” Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple gave him a call.
“Right when I first started talking to (Pitt’s coaches), it kind of clicked, and everything just kind of made sense,” Yellen said.
Pitt Hall of Famer Mark May, who lives in Arizona, even reached out to Pat Narduzzi to tell him to get in touch with Yellen – but Narduzzi was already on top of it, a few hours before May.
The Mission Viejo, Ca. native, didn’t even take a visit to Pitt for a visit because of their being a dead period at the time when he wanted to make his decision. Instead of traveling across the country to check out Pitt’s campus and football digs, he resorted to FaceTime.
“Because it was the dead period, we weren’t actually allowed to make a real trip out and see everything (at Pitt),” Yellen said about the electronic visit. “So, we did like the facilities tour through FaceTime, just so I could see everything. I talked to a lot of the people over the phone (though).”
During the FaceTime tour, coaches Narduzzi and Whipple hopped on the phone to help show off the Pitt facilities to Yellen. And despite not getting the typical official visit vibe, Yellen was able to build some connection with the coaching staff and school.
“I’m comfortable here,” Yellen said. “I liked talking to people here and just really thought I could grow as a person.”
Yellen also credited former Pitt quarterback Trey Anderson, who is on the coaching staff at Arizona State, for putting him at ease about coming to Pitt and playing for Whipple.
It’s already been a fast journey from, ASU to Pitt for Yellen, and that process could still be accelerating. Yellen he has applied for an NCAA transfer waiver to be eligible for the 2020 season, meaning that this spring could be a real competition for playing time at the quarterback position behind Pickett.
If things go as smoothly with Yellen for the rest of his time as a Panther as the first month did, there will be good things in his future.