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Jeff George Jr. named Pitt’s backup quarterback

The former Illinois starter passed Ricky Town on the Pitt depth chart

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt quarterback Jeff George Jr. earned a promotion and is now the Panthers’ second-stringer, according to Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, who announced the move during a press conference on Monday. George displaced Ricky Town, a former four-star recruit and USC signee.

”Right now, Jeff would be the guy,” Narduzzi responded when asked to name his current backup. “We have confidence in Ricky, as well. [But] Jeff has come in and really picked stuff up well.”

While Narduzzi and the Pitt coaching staff are privy to a closer look at their personnel than the media and fans, it’s unclear what prompted the shakeup, as George’s lone accomplishment at Pitt thus far is throwing an incomplete pass while posing as a punter against Notre Dame. Nonetheless, George has taken second-team reps at practice recently, presaging the move.

What makes the decision curious is the presence of Town, who seemed like a potential star coming out of high school and a lock to hold down the backup role during his time at Pitt. In addition to that, he’s seen the field and fared better than George, connecting with tight end Jim Medure for 15 yards against Albany on Sept. 1, albeit in garbage time of a lopsided game.

Of course, George has seen significantly more action at the Division I level as a former starter at Illinois, but his experiences there weren’t wholly positive. Over 12 games with the Fighting Illini, George completed just 48 percent of his passes for 1,743 yards. He also threw 11 touchdowns against 15 interceptions, never finishing a season with a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio.

All things considered, the factors that appear to have weighed most heavily into Narduzzi’s decision are George’s relative experience and what he’s shown on the practice field over the last couple of weeks. Whatever the case, whoever can hold onto the backup job may hear their number called in 2018, as Pitt’s flailing passing offense currently ranks 118th in the nation.