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Kenny Pickett wins Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

The Pitt quarterback is the first player from his program to win the honor

Miami v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Tuesday morning after an outstanding super-senior season. The award honors the best upperclassman quarterback in the nation every year, and Pickett beat out four other finalists for the honor, including Matt Corral of Ole Miss, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest, Devin Leary of NC State and Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati.

“To receive an award named after the legendary Johnny Unitas is just an incredible honor,” Pickett said in a statement. “I know the high standards he set, both as a quarterback and as a leader. Certainly I’ll always strive to uphold those standards and represent this award the best I can. I want to thank Mr. Unitas Jr., the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation and A.O. Smith. As always, I accept this award on behalf of my teammates and coaches who made this all possible.”

During the 2021 season, Pickett has thrown for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns while completing 67.2 percent of his pass attempts. Each of those figures represents a personal best, and on top of that, he has broken almost every major passing record at Pitt, most notably topping Dan Marino as the leader in career touchdown passes, with 81, and Alex Van Pelt in career passing yards, with 12,303.

However, Pickett’s success has not been limited to the program level, as he posted the best season by an ACC quarterback in terms of touchdowns, with his 42 breaking a conference record set by Deshaun Watson in 2016. In addition, his regular season was unparalleled by any previous ACC signal-caller, as he became the first to throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns through the first 12 games of a season. And at the national level, Pickett ranks in the top 10 in touchdown passes, passing yards and passing efficiency.

Pickett is the first Pitt player to earn the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award since its inception in 1987. Each of the last eight winners of the award have gone on to play in the NFL, and three of those eight have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including last year’s winner, ex-Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

In addition to winning the Golden Arm Award, Pickett has already been honored as the ACC Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-ACC first team. However, the Pitt quarterback may not be done racking up accolades just yet, as he will travel to New York City for the Heisman Trophy Ceremony this Saturday as one of four Heisman finalists.