Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was one of 15 college quarterbacks in the nation shortlisted for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Friday. The award has been given to the most outstanding senior or fourth-year college quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation since 1987.
Pickett is joined on the 15-man shortlist for the Golden Arm Award by Ian Book of Notre Dame, Shane Buechele of SMU, Sam Ehlinger of Texas, Justin Fields of Ohio State, Feleipe Franks of Arkansas, Mac Jones of Alabama, D’Eriq King of Miami, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Kellen Mond of Texas A&M, Brock Purdy of Iowa State, Zac Thomas of Appalachian State, Kyle Trask of Florida, Brady White of Memphis and Zach Wilson of BYU.
So far this season, Pickett has not only been an outstanding presence in the Pitt offense but also among quarterbacks across the country. At the program level, Pickett is the catalyst of the Panthers offense and is easily the most valuable offensive player in the Pitt locker room. But Pickett’s performance this season also compares well with those of the best senior signal-callers in the country.
Through Pitt’s first eight games of the 2020 season, Pickett has thrown for 1,599 yards and eight touchdowns, with just three picks. However, he has added six scores and 132 yards on foot, and his totals of 1,731 yards and 14 touchdowns were accrued over just six games, as Pickett was injured for Pitt’s losses to Miami and Notre Dame, with Arizona State transfer Joey Yellen starting in his place.
Those two losses demonstrated Pickett’s value to Pitt, as the offense sputtered with him out of the lineup, scoring an average of just 11 points per game without him. With Pickett under center this year, the Panthers have scored 33.2 points per game. They are also 4-2 with him in and 0-2 with Yellen running the offense.
Nationally, Pickett ranks ninth among senior quarterbacks in total passing yards despite missing two games. He also ranks sixth among senior quarterbacks in passing yards per game, with 266.5, and eighth among senior signal-callers in total offense, with 288.5 yards per game. Those figures compare favorably with multiple finalists for the Golden Arm Award, so Pickett may well survive the next cut and earn a spot among the final 10 candidates.
The Golden Arm Award list will be shortened to a top 10 on Nov. 23 and a top five on Dec. 7. On Dec. 21, the winner will be announced.