Oltmanns: Bostick a leader on and off field

By Alex Oltmanns

Pitt honored its premier student athletes for their outstanding achievements on and off the… Pitt honored its premier student athletes for their outstanding achievements on and off the field at its annual senior awards banquet last week.

The school gave the prestigious David Sandberg Champion award to a Pitt quarterback who just might be the most successful signal-caller to play for the Panthers during my four years as a student here.

No, I’m not talking about Tino Sunseri or even Bill Stull. I’m talking about Pat Bostick.

The award, named after a former Pitt wrestler and assistant coach is given to the senior that best exemplifies the traits Sandberg did at the University: dedication to academic and athletic excellence accompanied by an unyielding spirit and passionate commitment to the improvement of the University and its surrounding communities.

And there couldn’t be a more deserving selection for the award in any aspect.

While mostly a career backup to Stull and Sunseri, Bostick led the Panthers to two of their most historic and memorable wins in the program’s history when he was thrust into the starting lineup after the starters were injured.

Who can forget the epic 13-9 upset of No. 2 West Virginia in 2007 when the Panthers were just 4-7 coming into the game? In the contest, the Mountaineers simply needed a win to advance to the National Championship game.

Though Bostick was just 10 for 19 for 67 yards in the game, it was his leadership and poise that carried the Panthers to a win that helped turn the program around and lead to the signing of several five-star recruits soon after the game. Those included Jon Baldwin, Lucas Nix and Shayne Hale.

Just one year later, Bostick was once again thrust into a big game  against the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium that saw Pitt come away with a historic 36-33 win in four overtimes. That win made the Panthers bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004.

Once again, Bostick’s stat line wasn’t anything special — a pedestrian 14 for 27 outing with 164 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

But it was never Bostick’s stats that made him successful. It was his role as a leader on and off the field that should make him stand out in people’s memories.

Acting almost as a coach on the field, Bostick was known to get to practice early — sometimes even before the coaches — to watch game film and act as a mentor to younger quarterbacks like Sunseri.

Many quarterbacks would be bitter when a younger player like Sunseri passed them on the depth chart, but that’s not Bostick’s mentality.

He would even go to the team’s South Side practice facility on off days to sit with the coaches and break down film even further.

Though the Manheim Township, Pa., native has decided to forgo his last year of eligibility to pursue graduate studies, he has taken his leadership skills to the sidelines and the press box as an ambassador to the University, working as an intern with the media relations department.

One of the most approachable people on campus, Bostick can always be found with a smile on his face, ready to engage in conversation.

As the Pitt football program saw a decline in  reputation across the country this year because of numerous off-the-field incidents, the work of players like Bostick often goes unnoticed.

Bostick called his service-oriented involvement at Oakland’s Dan Marino Field, his work with Pitt chaplain Robert Brooks and his community engagement in the North Side some of his most memorable charitable work with the youth of the community.

“I’ve had an unbelievable opportunity at Pitt to affect a lot of kids,” Bostick said. “It’s big for me to show kids that have dreams how they can achieve those dreams.”

So while his career nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions might not be very impressive to the naked eye, Bostick put his stamp on the Pitt football program with historic victories that will never be forgotten and an attitude that leaves many of those around him with nothing but good things to say.

I am one of those people.