The Pitt football team got great news on Tuesday night. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett will use the free year of eligibility granted to all student-athletes in 2021.
In other words, Pickett is officially back. He’s already played a lot of football for the Panthers, so his experience will be a real asset to the team.
In four seasons, Pickett has thrown for 7,984 yards and 39 touchdowns with 25 interceptions. In 2020 alone, he completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,408 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He might not be the best quarterback in the country, but he’s a valuable keep for Pat Narduzzi.
It isn’t going to end with Pickett, however. A wave of returnees is coming, but whom will it include? The speculation has been mounting, and it’s going to bring a tremendous amount of intrigue to the 2021 college football season.
More than likely, we’ll see key players across the country back at virtually every position. But the offensive skill positions, including quarterback, will continue to get the most scrutiny.
For example, there has been speculation surrounding the status of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and his future with the Longhorn program. He’s a big name who has been around for awhile, so that would be an interesting return.
Granted, it looks like Ehlinger will not be back, but this same conversation is about to take place regarding a lot of big names around college football.
How about Miami quarterback D’Eriq King? His eligibility was supposed to dry up following this season, but he will now have an opportunity to return — and he probably should. Notre Dame signal caller Ian Book is another. He’s been great, but is he an NFL talent? That remains to be seen.
If he’s not, why not come back?
And remember, we’ve mentioned only a few quarterbacks. This is going to create a massive focus on roster management over the next few years. Auburn’s Bo Nix is technically a sophomore, but he will still have three years of eligibility left following this season.
That matters. Maybe not in the case of Nix in particular, but you get the point. The correct approach to this situation could keep certain teams relevant for longer than they would have been otherwise.
The point here is that the 2021 season is going to be wild. In fact, it could be even crazier than what we’ve seen in 2020.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.