Tony Racioppi is one of the top quarterback coaches and quarterback minds in the country.
The New Jersey native has trained countless Division I quarterbacks and some that have gone on to be good enough to play in the NFL.
One of those quarterbacks is former Pitt star and Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 first round pick Kenny Pickett. Racioppi started working with Pickett six years ago and the two kept that personal and working relationship while Pickett played at Pitt. During his time off with Pitt, Pickett religiously returned to his hometown to work on his craft with Racioppi and trained with him for five straight months prior to the NFL Draft.
Racioppi’s reputation is nationwide as evidenced by the fact that he was one of the on-field coaches at the just concluded Manning Quarterback Passing Academy.
While there, Racioppi spent quite a bit of time with the guy that’s looking to replace Pickett at Pitt and that’s Kedon Slovis. While at the four-day clinic held at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Racioppi coached Slovis and spent a ton of time with him.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke on Wednesday morning on Wednesday morning to get his thoughts on what he saw from Racioppi and his fit into the Pitt offense.
“He’s got great feet and plays with a great base,” said Racioppi. “He seems like he’s balanced no-matter what he’s doing. He has a really pretty release and throws a really pretty football. It’s a tight ball. He’s always been a deadly accurate player but the biggest thing I saw from him this time as opposed to last time, he was there last year I believe with Kenny, his arm has definitely gotten stronger. There’s definitely more velocity on the football than I saw last time. I think a lot of guys like him that played early at these Blue Blood programs, there were a lot of ups and downs which is only going to improve him moving forward.
“I got to spend a ton of time with him, and we talked about Pittsburgh for a good hour, hour and a half. He’s beyond excited and absolutely loves it. Loves the city, loves the people, loves Pat Narduzzi, loves Frank Cignetti’s system, loves the players on the team and how hard working they are. He loves how much of a team they are and really loves being at Pitt. He couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming season.”
Slovis also understands that he’ll have competition for the starting position and will need to beat out veteran Nick Patti to get the start against West Virgina on Sept. 1. Regardless of who Narduzzi and Cignetti decide to go with, Racioppi believes the quarterback spot will be a strength and either one can get the job done.
“I think Pitt fans should be excited for either guy,” said Racioppi. “They both bring some really good things to the table, if Kedon is the guy, I’d be jacked up if I was a Pitt fan just like I would with Nick. Nick has put a lot of work in. There’s been plenty of times over his career that he could have jumped into the portal and try and leave to go somewhere else to play. He’s never done that, and he’s never run from competition, which I think says a lot about him.”