Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was named a finalist for two of college football’s highest honors on Tuesday, as he made the final cut for the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award. The Maxwell Award goes to the best college football player of the year, and the Davey O’Brien Award is intended to honor the top quarterback in college football.
For the Maxwell Award, Pickett is up against Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III. And for the Davey O’Brien Award, Pickett and Young are up against Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.
This season, Pickett has rewritten the Pitt record books, topping Dan Marino, Rod Rutherford, Alex Van Pelt and others to claim the best marks in program history for career completions, career passing yards, single-season passing yards, single-season total yards, single-game passing yards and total touchdowns. Through 11 games, Pickett has 3,857 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns with just six picks in 2021.
Pickett currently ranks fourth in the nation in passing touchdowns, fifth in passing yards, seventh in completions per game and eighth in passing efficiency. Those numbers put him right in the thick of the Davey O’Brien race with Stroud and Young. However, both quarterbacks have been more efficient than Pickett, although they have completed fewer passes.
The problem for Pickett with regard to both awards is that Young has thrown two more touchdowns and three fewer interceptions than him on a national championship contender, which bodes well for Young’s chances to take home both honors. With that said, Pickett has more passing yards than Young and Stroud and has achieved similar results with less talent around him. So an argument could be made that he’s done more on an individual basis.
Of course, the race for both awards has another week to play out, and with Pickett facing Syracuse as Young plays Auburn and Stroud takes on Michigan, the Pitt quarterback has an opportunity to pad his stats and surpass Young’s touchdown total.
Pickett has an opportunity to become Pitt’s first Davey O’Brien winner and its third Maxwell winner. Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green won the Maxwell in 1976 and 1980, respectively. So Pickett would be Pitt’s first Maxwell winner in 41 years. The winner of the awards will be announced on Dec. 9 on ESPN.