In the days leading up to Fall training camp, I'll be previewing each position on the roster. Now there is a preseason depth chart that has been released, but I'll be doing my own projections factoring in freshmen and other factors. I sat down and did some interviews on Mark Rogers TV about every position on the field for Pitt. Naturally, I'll start with discussing the quarterback position. It's the most important position on the field, and one worth discussing at some length. For each breakdown I'll look into the projected starter, the top backup, and the bottom of the depth chart. Here is my interview with Mark, and give him a follow as he always is putting out great content about college football.
Projected Starter - Nate Peterman 6'2" 225 Senior
2015 Stats: 193-314 (61.5%) 2,287 yards 20 Touchdowns 8 Interceptions
Nate Peterman was a bit of an unknown commodity going into last season. He had a very underwhelming career at Tennessee before transferring to Pitt, and on top of that he didn't even win the job outright over Chad Voytik until the third game of the season. So with the limited expectations on him, he actually fared very well in his first full year as a starting quarterback. Peterman was never exceptional nor was he ever the sole reason Pitt won any games, but he did his job and managed the games very well.
In 2016, however, Pitt is going to need more from the quarterback position. Peterman loses all-everything Tyler Boyd and steady tight-end JP Holtz from his arsenal. He will need to help develop some less experienced wide receivers and find a way to compensate for being overly reliant on Tyler Boyd. The rushing attack should improve with Conner returning, and that may take some pressure off Peterman and the passing game. Still, the quarterback play needs to get better this season. There may be a situation this year when Pitt needs their quarterback to go out and win a game, and he never really displayed that ability on a consistent basis last season. He had poor showings in the final two games against Miami and Navy, and while they were good opponents, they were uninspiring performances in key games heading into the offseason.
It's no secret Peterman has a great deal of importance to this team, and you will see why if you keep on reading. The depth is not ideal at such an important position, and any injury to Peterman could really set Pitt back dramatically.
Top Backup - Manny Stocker 6'2" 220 Senior
Pitt is turning to a converted wide receiver walk-on to handle their backup quarterback duties as it stands right now. You may need to read that sentence again, but that's how poor the situation is right now behind Nate Peterman. Manny Stocker transferred to Pitt before last season by way of UT-Martin after initially starting his career at NC State.
Stocker barely played last season and when he did, it was primarily on special teams, and now he's one snap away from running the team. It's a scary thought, and it really highlights previous coaching regimes' inability to bring in a quality quarterback. In fairness, Chad Voytik did transfer and the general consensus of the quarterback position would be much stronger if he was still on the roster.
Stocker obviously has some athleticism being that he is a converted wide receiver. Looking back at his career, both NC State and UT Martin used his running abilities. If he were to be pressed into action, Pitt may run a more run friendly offense to cater to his skill set.
The Rest - Ben DiNucci 6'2" 210 (R-FR) Tom MacVittie 6'4" 200 (FR) Ryan Adzima 6'2" 215 (R-FR)
Ben DiNucci enters the 2016 season as a redshirt freshman. He was a late add in the 2015 recruiting class after having a tremendous high school career at nearby Pine-Richland. Despite his prolific career in high school, he was never highly recruited for various reasons. DiNucci did not have a great Spring Game, and was passed over by walk-on Manny Stocker. It's still too early to say what his career will turn out to be, but there aren't high expectations at the moment.
Tom MacVittie is an incoming four-star quarterback from Cincinnati. The coaches and even the fan base have high hopes for him in his career. Still, the likely outcome is that he is going to redshirt this season. In a perfect world Peterman stays healthy and MacVittie has a year to learn the offense and redshirt and preserve his freshman eligibility. In a not so perfect world, Peterman may go down with a serious injury and is out for an extended period of time, and in that scenario, burning MacVittie's redshirt makes sense to me. Might as well get on with your future if they were to happen. So MacVittie isn't the #2 quarterback on the roster, but I could see a path that gets him there.
Ryan Adzima is a redshirt freshman walk-on from New Jersey. It would take a wild scenario that would get him on the field.