Back on March 26, 2015 Pitt received a commitment from a little known Quarterback from Cincinnati, Ohio. At that point, many were skeptical of Tom MacVittie, and for good reason - he never started a high school game. Usually Division One quarterback prospects start in their sophomore year, heck sometimes even as freshmen, and here Pitt was taking a kid that has played three years as backup for his high school.
His offer sheet wasn't much too speak of either, thus drawing concern and criticism from many. In-state schools like Cincinnati and Miami offered, but no big programs came calling when Pitt did. Pitt saw something in him and jumped on him rather quickly, and for the most part he told any other schools in pursuit after his commitment, "thanks, but no thanks." He stuck with the Panthers 100% throughout his commitment even after more big schools finally came around on him.
MacVittie did not attend just any other ordinary High School. He went to the prestigious Cincinnati school, Archbishop Moeller, a program with 9 Division 1 State Championships in it's history and one that has produced countless players to the next level. Tom waited his turn and served as a backup to a state runner-up team as a junior. When he did get the starting nod as a senior, he did not disappoint.
Despite an early season injury that forced him to miss two games, MacVittie threw for 1,900 yards and tossed 22 touchdowns to just one interception in 2015. He had to navigate Moeller through one of the toughest schedules in the country. He passed every test with flying colors, so much so, that the recruiting website 24/7.com moved him into their top 100 prospects and gave him a four-star grade. Not bad for a kid that has only started eight games in his high school career.
MacVittie not only drew attention and praise from recruiting sites, but he attracted some late interest from a very notable school - LSU. Chris Peak of Pantherlair did a nice (free!!) article chronicling the late stages of MacVittie's recruiting process. Obviously, the LSU offer and interest is very noteworthy, as the Tigers are a perennial top 10 program. Still, MacVittie never wavered in his commitment to Pitt. And that quarterback some were skeptical of back in March, chose to stay with Pitt over LSU. He went from the questionable recruit to one of the pillars of the class.
Now that MacVittie has signed, where do things go from here? It would appear Nate Peterman is entrenched as the team's quarterback for 2016, and for good reason. Peterman guided the team to 8 wins last season, the best win total since 2010. Peterman did show signs of struggle and regression late in the year, could that open the door for MacVittie?
Generally, starting a true freshmen quarterback is something teams would like to avoid. Still, it does have it's benefits. It gets your team's future started right away. For example, Miami is likely going to reap those benefits this season with Brad Kaaya in his third year as a starter in his junior season. Obviously you don't unseat an incumbent starter for no reason, and we will see if Matt Canada and Pat Narduzzi have a reason to do just that. Again, there are no sure things, but it appears MacVittie has the pedigree to compete for the job and push Peterman come Fall camp.
Down the line is likely where MacVittie will make his impact. With all due respect to the other members of this recruiting class, he very well may be the most important piece. Pitt seemingly always has had steady Quarterback play ,but have they had great QB play in recent memory? Not really. Perhaps the difference in being a solid 8 win team and being a conference championship contending team will be Quarterback play.
Pitt has some other young, unproven players at QB position on the roster like Adam Bertke and Ben DiNucci. Neither player should be counted out yet, but something feels different about the potential of MacVittie. The development and progression of the Pitt football program could rest on the shoulders of a quarterback, did Pitt get that quarterback they needed in this recruiting class? Hard to say right now, but we will start to find out in the coming years.