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Pat Narduzzi All But Confirms Pitt’s Starting Quarterback



PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi may not have come out and explicitly said it, but if you read between the very apparent lines, Phil Jurkovec has emerged as Pitt’s No. 1 quarterback this spring.

When Jurkovec arrived as a transfer from Boston College over the winter, Pitt’s coaching staff emphasized that he wouldn’t simply be handed the starting job. And Pitt started the spring with Jurkovec, Christian Veilleux and Nate Yarnell battling.

But after 11 scrimmages now, including two scrimmages, it’s Jurkovec who has stepped forward in terms of leadership and that No. 1 quarterback spot.

“(Jurkovec’s) been outstanding, like we thought,” Narduzzi said after Tuesday’s practice. “… Christian and Nate are in a battle right now, and Ty’s done some really nice things. They’re in battle for that No. 2 spot.”

Narduzzi said that Jurkovec has taken roughly 25 snaps or so over the two scrimmages this spring, as Pitt looks to keep him healthy, but the staff has seen good things in practice. And to Jurkovec’s credit, he’s remained low-key when it comes to the competition.

“I’m just out there every day competing,” he said after practice Tuesday.

There was, of course, an expectation that when Kedon Slovis exited the program and Jurkovec arrived the same day, he would be handed the keys to the offense. He has that added familiarity after spending two seasons with Cignetti at Boston College, and he’s easily the most experienced quarterback on the roster.

But after Pitt conducted a quarterback competition between Slovis and Nick Patti that ran all the way up to the regular season, with an official announcement made a week before the Backyard Brawl last season, it remained to be seen how this season’s battle would run. It appears this competition is different.

Jurkovec has earned a lot of praise already this season, from the coaching staff and his new teammates alike. Narduzzi said late last year that Jurkovec added a level of leadership that Pitt maybe lacked last season, and his offensive linemen have praised the ‘moxie’ he brings at the position.

“He’ll go out there and make a play, and I think a lot of guys on this team really respect that, kinda really respect a guy with moxie,” Blake Zubovic said last month. “He’s a team guy, he’s down to earth … He’s gonna be a good fit in this team, I already know it.

“A quarterback when they have heart, especially in college football, I think that’s the most important thing. Because I think you get the whole team behind you. I do see those similarities (with Kenny Pickett) in terms of moxie.”

Jurkovec has spent time at Notre Dame and Boston College during his college career. In three seasons at Boston College, Jurkovec completed 404-of-679 passing attempts (59.5%) for 5,183 yards with 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. And he added 429 yards and nine touchdowns on 195 attempts.

His debut season at Boston College, with Frank Cignetti Jr. as his offensive coordinator, Jurkovec completed 61% of his pass attempts for 2,558 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions — adding 150 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Narduzzi said that the coaching staff will continue to evaluate the position, but Jurkovec has emerged as the perhaps expected leader in the room.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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