Stull’s hometown dream comes to light

By Jay Huerbin

For quarterback Bill Stull, playing for a hometown crowd has always been a vision. ‘I’ve always… For quarterback Bill Stull, playing for a hometown crowd has always been a vision. ‘I’ve always dreamed of and wanted to play in my hometown,’ said Stull, a redshirt junior quarterback for Pitt. ‘I always thought it would be cool to have a fan base in high school that continued into college. To see the same people cheering for you is something special. I definitely wanted that, and that is why I’m here.’ Having that crowd follow him is just what he got. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Stull moved to the Pittsburgh area with his family because of his father’s job. It turned out to be his city. Success was always a part of Stull’s high school career at Seton-LaSalle. As a senior, Stull broke numerous records. He became the first player in WPIAL history to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season, and he carried his team to a WPIAL Class AA championship as a senior in 2004. Even though a verbal commitment to Kentucky was in place during Stull’s senior year of high school, tough recruiting from Pitt began to change Stull’s mind. It would not be long before he would sign with Pittsburgh. Seeing limited time as a quarterback during his first two years at Pitt only caused Stull to work harder to prove himself. And prove himself he did. Stull now enters this season as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. But this is nothing new. After grinding it out during the 2007 training camp, coach Dave Wannstedt gave Stull the nod to lead the offense for a Panther team that looked to be on the rise. Unfortunately for Pitt, Stull suffered from a thumb injury in the third quarter of the season opener against Eastern Michigan and was sidelined for the rest of the year. For Stull, being unable to quarterback his team and help to win games was the hardest part of sitting out of a season. It might have taken a while, but he realized that he could still help his team, even if an injury meant it wouldn’t be on the field. ‘It took me about a month to realize that I can help out in different ways,’ said Stull. ‘I can be a player-type coach on the sidelines.’ While he wasn’t marching Pitt down the field, Stull was learning some valuable experience that would help become a better player when he finally became healthy enough to compete again. An improbable upset over West Virginia that ended the 2007 season was tough to watch for Stull. He realized, though, that this was a team that was improving with every game and every challenge it faced. Still, last year Pitt had a different team. And while a lot of players are returning, Stull knows that this season will not be the same. ‘We’re a different team this year,’ explained Stull. ‘We have different weapons, and everybody has had another year together. I really think we are light-years ahead of where we were last year.’ This confidence is just what the Panthers are looking for, as they appear to have one of the most complete teams under the Wannstedt era. Offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh couldn’t agree more about Stull’s improvement. ‘He’s absolutely getting better,’ said Cavanaugh of Stull’s progress. ‘He’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster.’ This spring, Stull began practicing with a team he hopes to lead to victory this year. An injury might have sidelined him last season, but his experience and confidence continue to rise, and he hopes to peak at the right time. ‘The team respects [Stull] and they want to play for him,’ said Cavanaugh. ‘That’s leadership.’ And with the season approaching quickly, Stull could not be more excited to get out on the field. ‘We’ve had a great summer,’ said Stull. ‘We’re ready to play.’