Pitt quarterback Joey Yellen was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA on Friday, according to a release from the school. The native of Mission Viejo, California, joined Pitt in January after transferring from Arizona State, and up until Friday, it was unclear if he would be forced to sit out one year or be given the green light to play in 2020.
“This is outstanding news for Joey and our entire program,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “He’s been such a great addition, on and off the field, for us. We’re thrilled for him and his family. We are all very grateful for our compliance staff’s excellent work throughout this process.”
The 6'3", 215-pound quarterback earned a four-star rating from ESPN during his time at Mission Viejo High School, where he started in each of his two years as an upperclassman. During that two-year span, Yellen threw for 6,131 yards and 57 touchdowns and had 14 picks. He also completed 61 percent of his passes and led the Diablos to a 22-3 record.
Playing time was harder to come by in Tempe, as Yellen made just one start with the Sun Devils in 2019. However, he made a statement in his lone outing, throwing for 292 yards and four touchdowns despite a shoulder injury in a 31-26 loss to USC. Unfortunately, he also threw two interceptions, including a pick to USC defensive lineman Christian Rector with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter, ending what could have been a game-winning drive.
At Pitt, Yellen will almost certainly serve as a backup to Kenny Pickett in 2020, barring any unforeseen circumstances, and then battle with Davis Beville, Nick Patti and Nate Yarnell for the right to succeed him in 2021. However, his immediate eligibility means that should the need arise for him to sub in for Pickett this season, that option will be on the table.
“I’m very happy to have received this news from the NCAA, and I appreciate them making this decision on my situation,” Yellen said on Friday. “I am excited to be able to be available for my team this season and look forward to helping out any way I can.”
As of Friday, the ACC was still planning on going through with its football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning Pitt will get the opportunity to play in fall 2020. The team is currently set to kick off a 10-game conference-only slate starting with a matchup against Syracuse on Sept. 19. However, Pitt may choose to fill its open date on Sept. 12 with a non-conference opponent.