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Pitt in the Pros

The Pittsburgh Steelers Select Kenny Pickett in the First Round of 2022 NFL Draft

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If you had asked Kenny Pickett a year ago today what the future held, the answer would have been uncertain. Sure, the NFL was an idea, but it wasn’t a guarantee. A year later, he’s officially headed to the NFL as a first round draft pick.

With the 20th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kenny Pickett — and with the selection, the Steelers kept the “hometown” transplant home in Pittsburgh.

Pickett is the first Pitt first round selection since Aaron Donald in 2013, who went 13th overall, and he’s the first Pitt quarterback selected in the first round since Dan Marino in 1983, selected with the 27th pick.

Pickett arrived at Pitt in the winter of 2017, enrolling early out of Ocean Township High School in Oakhurst, New Jersey. The three-star quarterback, rated as the 738th-ranked recruit and 33rd-ranked quarterback in the class, didn’t play much as a freshman.

But Pickett did lead Pitt to a massive upset over No. 2 Miami in November of 2017, throwing for 193 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 60 yards and two touchdowns to keep the Hurricanes out of the College Football Playoff. Despite burning his redshirt season, Pickett was still able to spend five seasons at Pitt.

Ascending the depth chart in 2018, Pickett spent three seasons as Pitt’s starting quarterback to moderate success. He flashed his potential, using his arm and legs to lead Pitt forward, but the consistency just wasn’t quite there.

After considering entering the 2021 NFL Draft, projected as a likely Day 3 selection, Pickett counseled with Peyton Manning at the Manning Passing Academy and decided to return for one last ride with Pitt in 2021. And it made all the difference.

With the initiation of NILs in college football coming just before his super senior season, Pickett made sure to give back to his roots, partnering with local Boys and Girls Clubs — a reminder of his days in New Jersey.

In partnering with PGT Trucking and Ithen USA, Pickett is selling t-shirts this year and all proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania. Additionally, he gave 200 free shirts to the club back in August as part of “Pickett’s Partners.”

And, of course, Pickett took care of his offensive linemen this season by partnering with the Oaklander Hotel, treating his protectors to weekly meals.

However, while Pickett’s off-the-field work created waves in Pittsburgh and hometown Oakhurst, it was his on-field performance that allowed him to rise from a tweener draft prospect to one of college football’s best.

In leading Pitt to an 11-3 season, the best finish since 1981’s 11-1 finish with Dan Marino, Pickett won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award and an All-American (Walter Camp, AP, FWAA, Sporting News) and All-ACC (ACC Player of the Year) player.

With 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns, to just seven interceptions, on 334-of-497 passing attempts (67 percent), Pickett was one of the highest-rated passers in the nation, and he added 241 yards and five more touchdowns on the ground.

Pickett finished his Pitt career as the all-time leader in passing yards, completions, total offense, touchdowns responsible for and passing touchdowns. He’s thrown the most 300-yard passing games (16) and 400-yard passing games (five) and his 32 wins are the most as a Pitt starter.

Pickett completed 1,045-of-1,674 career passing attempts (just over 62 percent) for 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns, to just 32 interceptions. He also added 809 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in the run game in 52 career appearances (49 starts).

With Mitch Trusbisky and Mason Rudolph still in place in Pittsburgh, fighting for the starting spot, Pickett arrives in a quarterback room that isn’t exactly loaded. But with his age and experience, he’s ready set to jump right into Pitt’s quarterback room as the potential starter.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Clark Martineau
Clark Martineau
25 days ago

I guess all the blowhards that panned training and playing at the same facilities as a pro team can shut up now. What a great opportunity for a great Pitt man! Hail to Pitt! Hail to Kenny Pickett!

Last edited 25 days ago by Clark Martineau
Section 122
Section 122
25 days ago

Happy for him and happy for the Steelers. I might finally buy a jersey.

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