Pitt will enter the 2023 season with a new starting quarterback for the second time in two seasons, and aside from Nate Yarnell, a brand-new quarterback’s room.
Phil Jurkovec, Christian Veilleux and Ty Dieffenbach arrived while Kedon Slovis, Nick Patti and Derek Kyler exited. And while Pat Narduzzi all but confirmed that Jurkovec would be starting in the spring, he confirmed it in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Noah Hiles at the ACC Football Kickoff this week.
But it’s what he told Hiles about Pitt’s backup quarterbacks this season that will generate far more buzz around the college football landscape.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in Nate Yarnell and Christian Veilleux,” Narduzzi told Hiles. “Christian is a guy that, well, things are brand-new for him. He’s coming from a one-word offense to a real offense. But it’s a totally different offense. This offense is NFL-style with sophisticated terminology. We’re going to see a different version of Christian. Nate has had a little taste of the offense, but he’s a baby.”
Veilleux, of course, transferred to Pitt from Penn State in January. He spent two seasons at Penn State, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns in five appearances, as he worked with PSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich — whose last appearance against Pitt came as the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator in 2017.
Veilleux didn’t see the field much in 2022, but Penn State’s offense did bounce back to average 35.8 points per game and 6.19 yards per play following a subpar season offensively in 2021. Both of which were higher than Pitt’s own.
Veilleux’s only real taste of the Penn State offense came in his performance against Rutgers in 2021, completing 14-of-25 pass attempts for 235 yards and three touchdowns in his collegiate debut.
But as he sat behind long-time PSU quarterback Sean Clifford, and five-star Drew Allar arrived on campus, Veilleux attempted just nine passes as a sophomore. He arrived at Pitt with three seasons of eligibility and the chance to immediately back up fellow transfer Phil Jurkovec.
Frank Cignetti Jr., whose debut season at Pitt was marred by mediocre quarterback play, was a major draw in luring both Jurkovec and Veilleux to Pitt over the offseason. Jurkovec has the advantage of being familiar with an admittedly large Cignetti playbook — an install that has gone more smoothly in Year 2 of Cignetti’s tenure.
It is a major transition between the two offenses, and it continues to appear that Veilleux’s future at Pitt is more of a long-term plan at quarterback once Jurkovec moves on.