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Pitt Couldn’t Wait for Christian Veilleux to Realize His Potential

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Former Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux.

It’s just about impossible to plan for the future in college football these days.

There was a Pitt succession plan in place at this time last year. Phil Jurkovec would be the guy in 2023, but Christian Veilleux would have two seasons of eligibility when he took over in 2024. I guess it’s a good thing Nate Yarnell stuck around.

Frank Cignetti Jr. was dismissed after leading one of the worst offenses in college football, Jurkovec was benched and rebranded him as a tight end and Veilleux flopped in his earlier-than-expected opportunity as a starter and entered the transfer portal.

It’s disappointing for Pitt that Veilleux didn’t work out for a couple of reasons.

Veilleux, who stands at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, looks the part of a good college quarterback. If you watch him throw, you’ll notice the way — as Kade Bell puts it — he can spin the football. He’s the whole package on the practice field. It changes a bit when he steps onto the field on game days.

The Pitt offense wasn’t set up to succeed last season, but it’s not as if the personnel is without blame. In Veilleux’s case, even though he played against tougher competition, he couldn’t accomplish what was asked of him. Perhaps most importantly, he committed the cardinal sin of a Pat Narduzzi quarterback: he turned the ball over.

Veilleux has a ton of talent, his ceiling is high, but he just wasn’t ever able to actually put it together in Pittsburgh. And Pitt couldn’t wait for him.

It became clear somewhat early that Veilleux was falling out of favor with the new coaching staff this spring. Yarnell entered the spring as the starter after he finished the final two games last season, and it only took about a month for Alabama transfer Eli Holstein to rise up the depth chart. Veilleux was slated to enter summer camp as the No. 3 after he went 0-of-6 in the spring game.

Just look at what Kade Bell said when asked about how the quarterback room was shaping up this spring:

“Christian is developing when it comes to understanding what I want,” Bell said earlier this spring. “He has a lot of talent. That’s what is sometimes frustrating with Christian because you all watched it at Pro Day, he can absolutely spin it. But he has to understand, hey, it’s okay to check the ball down. It’s okay to take the flats. It’s okay to just find the completions because in this system, when the big plays are there, they’re going to be there. They’re going to be open. We get guys open, I think that’s the biggest thing we do.

“We don’t just throw the ball up and hope our guys make a play. We want to help them get open. He just has to understand the process of what I want as an offensive coordinator, and he’s trying to. He’s getting better. I truly think it’s hard when you’ve been through three or four different offenses. You’ve had to reprogram your reads, reprogram what an offensive coordinator wants because when it comes down to it, when I call a play, you want the guy who’s pulling the trigger to know exactly why I called that play. What does coach Bell want out of this play? What does he want to get accomplished? That’s the process we’re in with him right now.”

Veilleux started the spring in that QB2 spot, as Holstein worked back from a winter hamstring injury, but he wasn’t able to hold Holstein off for long. The spring game draft saw Yarnell as the first quarterback selected and Holstein as the second. I don’t want to put too much into the draft, but it was the players who picked the teams.

Veilleux played in seven games last season (making five starts), and he completed 94-of-184 pass attempts for 1,179 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He put a lot into Pitt, seemingly earned the respect of his teammates and provided good depth in the room. But he wasn’t going to start at Pitt, and with the portal opening back up, it made sense for him to find a place where he’d be able to play.

Pitt has Yarnell and Holstein at QB1 and QB2, and Narduzzi said that Yarnell will enter the fall as the starter. Ty Dieffenbach and Julian Dugger are around, too.

There may not be a true “star” on the roster, but there’s potential. If the quarterback play in 2024 is better than it was in either 2022 or 2023, Pitt has the chance to rebound. It just wasn’t going to be Veilleux. For all the natural talent that Veilleux possesses, there just wasn’t a future in which he was going to lead the Panthers.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

He came up short like when he went into that slide against Wake Forest.

Skip white
Skip white
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

That had to be one of the dumbest decisions I have seen. He could have ran for 5 more yards

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago

yeah, he didn’t do enough yet Duzz stays around after trotting out those offenses for years

TJ
TJ
1 month ago

New O coach and new schemes lead to player changes. If Nate and Eli lock down the 1&2 slots, seems like Ty won’t get on the field until 2026-7 (jr year?) at the earliest. Will he hang around? Plus, he’d have to beat out Eli, Duggar and other QB recruits that Bell is going to go after. If he can really play and get a starting job at a nice school, he could leave soon as well.

TJ
TJ
1 month ago
Reply to  TJ

maybe even more interesting … if Nate wins the job for the next 2 seasons, does Eli want to be a backup for 1-2 years before hitting the field ?

Terry
Terry
1 month ago

Seems like a good kid ,but the eye test says he’s a Mac qb or even a fcs qb

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