First year quarterback Nate Yarnell can’t wait to get back under center after missing the entire 2020 season—his senior year of high school—with a hand injury.
A 6-foot-6, 200 pound pro-style quarterback out of Lake Travis, Texas, Yarnell was a consensus three-star recruit and committed to Pitt in April. Lake Travis High School has an established tradition of quarterbacking success, with their last 10 starters playing Division I football. He went 6-0 as a starter in 2019, throwing 14 touchdowns to five interceptions and completing 68.3% of his passes for 1,501 yards.
Yarnell enrolled at Pitt in January and although the Panthers have several quarterbacks on the roster, anything can happen. All four scholarship QBs took snaps for the Panthers in 2020 due to starter Kenny Pickett’s midseason leg injury.
“I’m feeling better than I ever have, stronger than I ever have, and I’m just ready to get rolling,” Yarnell said.
Graduating early gave Yarnell an extra chance to study the playbook and get to know his teammates, and is something that several of Pitt’s quarterbacks have done in the past.
“Coach Whipple has been a great guy to learn from. He’s super helpful and its been really easy to understand the offense,” Yarnell said. “We’ve got a great group of guys. … I couldn’t be happier to be here.”
With a wealth of Division I talent ahead of him at Lake Travis, Yarnell knows a thing or two about waiting in the wings. He played behind current Texas quarterback Hudson Card and current Utah quarterback and former Baylor starter Charlie Brewer at Lake Travis.
“I want to win, and learning from Kenny, I think, is a fantastic resource for me to be a better quarterback,” Yarnell said. “If I can do my best to compete with him, then I’m set to be successful in the future.”
In the first weeks of winter workouts for the Pitt players, the Pittsburgh winter has made itself known. It’s snowed for more days in Pittsburgh since the start of the month than it has in Austin in Yarnell’s lifetime. But he has made the transition from the sunny plains of Texas to frigid midwinter Pittsburgh easily.
“I’ve been skiing a lot in my day, so the snow doesn’t bother me,” Yarnell said. “Cold doesn’t bother me. … When we get out there, everybody just enjoys it and we have fun with it.”
In fact, Pittsburgh’s environment was a big reason Yarnell decided on Pitt: the city’s sporting environment, that is.
“It’s a strong town. … They love their sports here, and that’s something I really wanted,” Yarnell said. “That’s important to me, coming from Texas.”