New to Pitt and Playing Quarterback: Ty Dieffenbach Looking Forward to Continued Growth
Dan Dieffenbach played ball at Eastern Washington back in the day. Basketball, that is.
He may not be as tall as his son Ty, who stands at a towering 6-foot-6, but the former 6-foot-2 guard can still hoop. So, of course, as Pitt’s coaching staff came to recruit Ty at the Dieffenbach’s home in Agoura Hills, California, basketball came up.
They took it outside. Dan and Ty vs. Pat Narduzzi and Tim Salem in a game of Horse.
Narduzzi said that he and Salem won that game back in December. But it turns out that Narduzzi and Salem actually came up short — literally — when matching up against Dan and Ty. “When (Narduzzi) came out to visit me, we played Horse and he said that he beat me,” Ty said. “He did not beat me in Horse.”
Pitt’s coaching staff may have made a strong impression on the whole Dieffenbach family during the visit to Cali, fitting in with the family right off the bat, but Narduzzi did not win that game of Horse — even though, according to Ty, he has a nice jumper.
Although, also according to Ty, Narduzzi did a lot of his damage right around the rim.
It was a close game, with Dan and Ty edging out an H-O-R-S to H-O-R-S-E victory in the backyard, but it was still a win. Now that that win is out of his system, all he wants to do is win with Narduzzi and Pitt going forward.
Thanks @CoachDuzzPittFB @CoachTimSalem for the home visit today! Pitt 💙💛 @Pitt_FB #H2P pic.twitter.com/Eo0PXKTwc2
— Ty Dieffenbach (@tydieffenbach14) December 16, 2022
Ty is young. He’s the youngest quarterback in the room now, and he’s the least experienced, which makes sense considering he’s an early enrollee, but he’s also only played the position since his sophomore year at Agoura High. He was a wide receiver all his life until a fateful encounter with new Agoura head coach Dustin Croick.
As Agoura ran through drills on a random day before Ty’s sophomore season, Croick noticed the zip on Ty’s return pass after he caught a ball.
‘Hey, come here and try this out,’ Croick told Ty.
Croick had Ty take a three-step drop and fire off a ball. He liked what he saw out of the lanky sophomore, enough to have him stick at quarterback. “And from that day on, I’ve kinda just been putting in 100% effort toward it,” Ty said. “Ended up winning the starting job.” Ty started varsity as a sophomore.
He made a leap as a junior, completing 169-of-269 pass attempts (63%) for 2,669 yards with 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions and turning down major interest from local private schools following the season, but an injury-riddled senior season left him off the field more often than on it. It was an inconsistent run on the field, but he learned much from it.
“It was definitely very tough at first because I was 15 years old on varsity, playing against 17-, 18-year-olds, so there’s one specific practice where we were working a QB run, and me and my offensive coordinator kept arguing about hitting the hole,” Ty said. “I was like, ‘Coach, I gotta go outside,’ and he’s like, ‘Just go inside.’ So, I went inside and it worked. He was right.”
Ty met with Croick and his offensive coordinator frequently, listening to their advice as he learned the position on and off the field. He had decided to stick with football — after playing football, basketball and baseball growing up — as he entered high school, and he decided to stick with quarterback after his sophomore season.
He decided to stick with Agoura. Even amid outside interest after a strong junior year.
“I was getting hit up by a couple of private schools in the area, and I was just like, ‘No thank you.’ I never even thought about it because my guys are — I’ve been with them my whole life,” Ty said. “My little brother was gonna start on varsity that year, and I was like, ‘Nope, I’m gonna stay home.'”
Agoura was home for Ty back then, and Pitt is home for him now. He felt the bond immediately with Narduzzi and Frank Cignetti Jr. — especially after he initially earned a scholarship offer from Cignetti after a live throwing session. But it wasn’t just Ty who bonded with Cignetti either.
Ty’s mother Heather is from New Jersey, and as Cignetti visited the family home, he spent half an hour just talking to Heather about the beauty of the east coast.
Ty’s grandmother is just about five hours away, so it just gives the Dieffenbach family another reason to come out and see him at Pitt. He’s going to be busy, however, as he works with Cignetti and Jon DiBiaso to become a college quarterback.
“He knows exactly what he’s talking about, and he’s a great teacher,” Ty said. “All that experience he’s had in the league and at other colleges. The first thing I noticed about coach Cignetti was his hospitality. When coach (DiBiaso) hit me up about hopping on the phone and everything, I talked to coach Cignetti and it just felt like family from day one.”
Quarterbacks in Agoura’s offense don’t operate under center, so Ty himself has never operated under center either. It’s a completely new challenge to tackle, and he’s already snapping with fellow early enrollee BJ Williams, but he’s working five- and seven-step drops and outside zones with DiBiaso and watching old tape of Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Namath with Cignetti. He’ll be working behind a few good quarterbacks, too.
“Phil, Christian and Nate, they all know their stuff,” Ty said. “They’re great quarterbacks, great leaders, and honestly, it’s just great to be able to learn from them.”
All three quarterbacks have made at least one collegiate start, and with the youngest (Yarnell) serving as his roommate, Ty is eager to learn. And as a quick side note, Ty — straight from the horse’s mouth — said that Yarnell is just a bit taller than he is.
Ty considers himself a pocket passer, but if he needs to use his legs — as he’s still not far from his days as a wideout — he will. His days as a wideout also help him determine exactly how he should throw his passes. He knows what kind of balls his receivers want to catch — where to place it on digs and fades.
At 6-foot-6, he draws inspiration from current Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, too. But despite the link, he’s not a Chargers fan. He’s loyal to his Seattle Seahawks.
Dan grew up in Seattle, so despite his proximity to LA in Agoura Hills, the family supports the Seahawks. Ty will be a bit further away from both the Seahawks and the Chargers now, but he’s found a new home away from home.
“It’s not that difficult, like Izzy (Polk) said, home is just a phone call away,” Ty said. “It definitely feels like home here. I settled in pretty well.”