Former Pitt football stars put on strong showing at 2022 Senior Bowl


AP Photo/Butch Dill

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett throws a pass during the first half of the NCAA Senior Bowl football game on Feb. 5 in Mobile, Alabama.

By Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

February marks the end of the NFL’s season and the beginning of draft season. NFL prospects — including three former Panthers — competed in last week’s Senior Bowl practices and game, hoping to increase their stocks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Senior Bowl, held in Mobile, Alabama, is an annual event where senior college football players come and showcase their skills in front of NFL scouts. There are three days of practice followed by a game. Three Panthers attended the 2022 Senior Bowl — quarterback Kenny Pickett, defensive back Damarri Mathis and long snapper Cal Adomitis.

Pickett was in the headlines before practices even began. During weigh-ins and measurements, Pickett declined to have his hands measured due to his double-jointed thumbs. It is rumored that Pickett has hands measuring less than eight and a half inches in size. Smaller hand size is troublesome for Pickett because regulation footballs are bigger in the NFL than in college. There is no official measurement on his hand size, but it raised questions about his ability nonetheless. His play in practice didn’t help either.

Pickett got off to a promising start on the first day of practice. The lack of chemistry with new receivers showed, but Pickett displayed some of the accuracy that made him a 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist. Day two of practice went terribly for Pickett, as well as for every other quarterback at the Senior Bowl, as rain poured down in Mobile. Pickett struggled with ball security and placement.

A dry day three of practice turned the week around for Pickett. While it wasn’t a perfect outing, Pickett connected with tight end Trey McBride and wide receiver Khalil Shakir for big plays. Pickett continued the momentum into the Saturday game, where he showed exactly why he is a projected first-rounder. Pickett, despite limited action, went a perfect six-for-six for 89 yards and a touchdown. While he is not the perfect quarterback prospect, his performances to end the week were promising.

Mathis was productive to start the week. The All-ACC honorable mention displayed strong man-to-man defense abilities on the outside and performed well in the one-on-one drills against opposing receivers. Mathis is an undersized defensive back, standing at just 5-foot-10.5 and 197 pounds, but he makes up for it with his strength and ability to stick to receivers in man coverage.

Mathis’ size and athleticism will hinder his chances to be a high-round draft pick. But with his play at the Senior Bowl, Mathis increased his chances of being selected. Time will tell, but Mathis is a rising prospect to this point.

Long snapper Cal Adomitis had an outstanding career at Pitt. He started five straight seasons as the Panthers’ long snapper, and is the most accomplished long snapper in Pitt history. Some of his accolades include All-ACC first team, All-ACC honorable mention and starting 64 consecutive games as Pitt’s long snapper.

Adomitis showed his longevity at the Senior Bowl. During the game, Adomitis connected on all of his snaps and recorded a tackle on punt coverage. Long snappers aren’t highly coveted or valued, especially in the NFL draft, but Adomitis’ efforts may get him on an NFL roster.

The Panthers still have the NFL combine and Pitt’s Pro Day to further show off in front of NFL scouts.