Kedon Slovis arrived at Pitt surrounded by much excitement and anticipation following Pitt’s ACC championship.
While the vibes were unanimously positive, Slovis also arrived with a lot of pressure. Looking back, it was probably greater than anyone expected.
Although he arrived having previously quarterbacked at tradition-filled USC, Slovis was taking over for Kenny Pickett, a player that had become the face of Pitt football and made the program relevant again in many people’s minds.
Despite losing Pickett, Pitt still had many key pieces returning and with the arrival of Slovis, many thought and probably expected Pitt to be playing for the ACC championship again this year.
That obviously didn’t happen and unfortunately for Slovis, right or wrong, he’s taken a lot of the blame for that.
The biggest question heading into this offseason for Pitt was whether Slovis return for a second season or not.
Today, we found out the answer as Slovis announced this morning his intention to transfer, which was followed up by the announcement that former Notre Dame and Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec was transferring to Pitt.
Prior to making his decision public, Slovis spoke with both Pat Narduzzi and Frank Cignetti to inform them of his decision. Following that, Slovis had a 20-minute conversation with Pittsburgh Sports Now to talk about many subjects.
Slovis was nothing but respectful of the Pitt coaches and went out of his way to praise them for the way they treated and handled him this season. He was also complimentary of his teammates and wished they would’ve been able to have more success on the field but acknowledged that it wasn’t as easy to accomplish in just one season as many expected.
The first thing we talked about was his decision to transfer and what factors went into it.
“We (Pitt coaching staff) and I knew that I had the opportunity to come back. There is a lot of positive in that and developing into a leader of this team and to be able to be the starter here for a second season,” said Slovis. “Also, the fact that I would’ve had an entire off-season to work and not be in a competition for the job. But at the end of the day, I think certain opportunities that I look forward to more, which were outside of the program, unfortunately. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of good things currently being done at Pitt. But with just one year left, I wanted to take a chance on myself and see what other opportunities I could find.”
While many people, including the coaching staff at Pitt, felt frustration when it came to the offense, that didn’t mean that they were pushing Slovis out of the door. In fact, Slovis said that it was the opposite.
“They (Narduzzi and Cignetti) both recruited me to stay. It’s not easy to tell someone that you’re leaving. It’s definitely not fun, especially when it’s two guys that you respect and enjoy learning from like I do them. I had a great conversation with Coach Cig today. We talked about where I could improve, as a coach, he also wanted to know from me, where he could improve as a coach. It was relatively understood, but I don’t know that they were ecstatic to hear about it, but I think they understand, especially Coach Cig, who spent a lot of time with me. He understands from a quarterback perspective where I’m at, and I really respect him for that.”
Slovis finished the season completing 184-of-315 passes for 2,397 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Much more was expected from Slovis and for a number of reasons, that didn’t happen. I asked him about where things went wrong and about the system in which he played in.
“I think the system at Pitt is great,” said Slovis. “It’s the West Coast offense, maybe what you call it and how you run it might be different. I think I learned a lot from Coach Cig. Learning a new offense, there’s things you learn as you play in it more and just get more reps. I think, for the most part, not even the system, the stuff that happened this year kind of led to the system that I wasn’t really anticipating it being. Obviously being a run-dominant team, we ran the ball super effectively. As a quarterback, you want to be given the chance to lead your team to win. That’s obviously something that most quarterbacks want to be a part of. I know we moved towards that and became more balanced towards the end of the year. But again, in terms of the offense and offense scheme, it’s a solid offense, I learned a lot and I’m glad I had the experience to play here.”
Slovis is moving onto his third college program and with just one year left, I asked him about what exactly he’ll be looking for in his next school. At the time of our conversation, without identifying them, Slovis had received calls or messages from approximately 10 teams.
“I’m really just looking for a place that will develop me as a player and help me get to the next level,” said Slovis. “It sounds simple, but it’s probably not that simple when you actually open that up more and see what that looks like specifically. But when you look at it like that, I think you can identify and weed out some places that might not be good for your development and others that might not be good for your production. That’s going to be the key for me going forward.”
Slovis could’ve identified some things that led to his and the team’s struggles on offense but didn’t want those on the record and instead, acknowledged that at the end of the day, they weren’t able to be effective enough to contend for another championship.