Coming into the 2021 college football season, if you took a poll of the national media asking who the best quarterback in college football would be, you likely would have gotten names like Spencer Rattler, Bryce Young, Matt Corral, Sam Howell, D.J. Uiagalelei and Malik Willis.
While those are a group of talented players, someone that wouldn’t have been brought up just might be the best quarterback in college football after four weeks.
I’m not saying that he’s the best. But I will say that no quarterback in college football has looked or played better than Kenny Pickett has played to this point for the Pitt Panthers.
I’ll repeat that: No one. You get the sense that every time Pitt has the ball that Pickett is going to lead them down the field for a touchdown.
Although they weren’t going against a defense that resembled the ’85 Chicago Bears, the Pitt offense led by Pickett ripped through the New Hampshire defense and virtually scored at will. In essentially two quarters of play, Pickett completed 24 of 28 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns. In four games this season, Pickett is 98 of 132 (74%) for 1,342 yards with 15 touchdowns and only one interception.
These numbers are obviously very impressive but where do they put him nationally?
Kenny Pickett’s National QB Rankings
- Passing Touchdowns (15): 2nd in the country
- Passing Efficiency (195.6): 2nd in the country
- Points Responsible For (102): 3rd in the country
- Total Offense (365 yds/game): 5th in the country
- Completion Pct (74.2%): 5th in the country
- Passing Yards/Game (335 yards): 6th in the country
I think that’s pretty solid justification and not just a local writer’s opinion propping up a player that he covers.
The problem that Pickett will have to deal with in terms of getting respect from the national media is that he isn’t a household name. He’s not someone who plays for a ranked program and more importantly, he isn’t someone that the media has been talking about since he arrived at Pitt.
A couple examples of that are Rattler from Oklahoma and Uiagalelei from Clemson.
Entering this season, those are two players that everyone was gushing over and anointing as the next great stars of college football mainly because of their star rating coming out of high school as opposed to actual production in college. Rattler was a 2019 5-star recruit, while Uiagalelei was a 2020 5-star recruit.
So far this season, Rattler is 100 of 135 for 1017 yards with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. As a national audience heard last night on ABC, Oklahoma fans are unhappy with him and want him replaced. Those numbers are serviceable, but they aren’t close to Pickett’s.
As far as Uiagalelei goes, he looks nothing like a 5-star recruit. In four games, Uiagalelei is 63 of 112 for 586 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
The bottom line is that through a lot of hard work and maintaining the proper attitude, Kenny Pickett has turned himself into one of the best quarterbacks, not only in the ACC, but in all of college football.
The only way that Pickett will start receiving the national attention that he deserves is if Pitt continues to win and makes a run at the Coastal Division. With the way it currently looks, that’s becoming a realistic possibility.
While experts on ESPN and other networks sing the praises of bigger names, if I had a choice of who the quarterback of my college team is in 2021, I’m taking No. 8 Kenny Pickett.