With Taysir Mack opting out of the Peach Bowl to prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft, there’s a key opening in the Pitt wide receiving corps for the Peach Bowl.
With Jordan Addison and Jared Wayne holding the top two targets, the duo could be joined by a couple of guys who haven’t been able to make much of an impact due to injury over the few weeks of the regular season.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said Sunday afternoon on Pitt’s Zoom Peach Bowl press conference that Melquise Stovall will likely be good to go, and Jaylon Barden will likely be a game-time decision for the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30 — even though he’s afraid to say definitively whether either will be good to go.
“Yeah, I’m always afraid to say yes or no,” Narduzzi said. “But Stovall for sure has been good to this point. And Jaylon Barden probably could go if we wanted him to. We’ll probably make a game-time decision with him. But he could probably go. But we wanted to make sure.”
Stovall, a transfer from Hawaii before the season, caught 14 balls for 189 yards and a touchdown this season. He hasn’t played since Pitt’s overtime win against North Carolina on Nov. 11.
Barden, a high three-star recruit from 2020, caught nine balls for 174 yards and two touchdowns this season. Barden hasn’t played Pitt’s loss to Miami on Oct. 30, killing the momentum of a season in which he appeared to be gearing up for an increased role in the offense.
With Stovall expected to play against Michigan State, Narduzzi said while Barden likely could play, he’s still questionable to this point.
“(Barden’s) down here,” Narduzzi said. “He’s from this area. He’s begging to go. But I don’t make those decisions. Our doctors and trainers will. We’ll see as we go. But he’s still questionable at this point, I would say, just because I don’t make that decision.”
With tight ends coach Tim Salem being afforded offensive play-calling in the Peach Bowl, backup quarterback Nick Patti will get his first start of the season in place of opted-out Kenny Pickett. If Barden is active, it could be the launchpad of a renewed junior season.