Meet the Panthers: Q&A with Kenny Pickett


Incoming Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett drops back to pass while at Ocean Township High School in New Jersey. Courtesy of Kasey Pickett

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

Kenny Pickett is quick to commit.

The 6-foot-3, 191-pound quarterback from Oakhurst, New Jersey, announced his intention to join the Pitt football team’s 2017 recruiting class on June 3.

He didn’t wait to make it official either, as he’s one of five 2017 recruits who chose to get a head start on becoming a Panther by graduating high school early and enrolling at Pitt for the spring semester.

When Pickett, a three-star prospect according to Rivals, announced his decision to join the Panthers, he became the third member of Pitt’s 2017 class — a class that now includes five early enrollees and 15 verbal commits.

Since then, a lot has changed within the Panthers’ program, including the departure of offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the addition of former USC quarterback Max Browne to the team’s 2017 roster. The Pitt News spoke with Pickett to discuss his decision to enroll early at Pitt, the team’s uncertainty at offensive coordinator and why he chose to stick with the Panthers.

The Pitt News: Did you get a chance to watch Pitt’s bowl game against Northwestern?

Kenny Pickett: Yeah, I went to the game, because I live only an hour away from New York City. So I went with my family and a bunch of my friends, and that was a great time. But yeah, [backup quarterback Ben DiNucci] did great, I mean, that’s a tough situation to come in. It was like 20 degrees, the wind was whipping in the stadium. To ask him to come off sitting on the bench for three quarters or whenever he came in, that’s a tough situation to be in. He came in and did a really good job.

TPN: Why did you decide to keep your commitment to Pitt after the departure of offensive coordinator Matt Canada?

KP: It really came down to the people here. The recruiting business, people can kind of put on a show for you when you get to the campus on your official [visit], and you get here and you want to see what the people are like. And they’re genuine people — they mean what they say. That really means a lot to me and my family.

TPN: How does it affect your mindset going into next season knowing [graduate transfer and former USC quarterback] Max Browne will be part of your competition for the starting job?

KP: I look at it as a guy that I can learn from … he’s been through it. He’s a really good guy. I’ve been around him at the workouts, and I’m trying to see how he conducts himself, because that’s the way I want to conduct myself while I’m here. He’s a great role model to have.

TPN: What made you decide to enroll at Pitt early? Was it to get a head start on learning the playbook?

KP: Yeah, that, and really it’s an academic standpoint. The schedule is hectic — it’s been something I’ve had to adjust to day in and day out. It’s really going to help me a lot when it comes down to summer and summer practice starts. The 5:40 workouts are going to start soon, so I’m sure that will be tough. Really, it’s just getting a head start and being a leader for my class when they come in the summer. I can help guys out and point them in the right direction, so that was a huge driving factor to it.

TPN: The team is losing multiple starters and All-ACC performers on offense, but there are some young playmakers returning, like Quadree Henderson and Chawntez Moss. What excites you about joining this offense?

KP: On my visits, I got a chance to watch them play. I watched them play on TV. Those are the kind of guys you want to be around. They’re great players obviously, and they’re great people. So it’s the kind of team I want to be around.

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