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Pitt places five players on 2022 Senior Bowl watch list

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett headlines the group and has consistently impressed Senior Bowl staffers

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt football program saw five of its players selected for the 2022 Senior Bowl watch list on Thursday morning. The quintet includes two members of the defense and three members of the offense, with super senior quarterback Kenny Pickett headlining the group.

In addition to Pickett, Panthers tight end Lucas Krull and Panthers left tackle Carter Warren made the watch list as representatives of the Pitt offense. As a signal-caller in his fifth year with the team, Pickett has the best shot at distinguishing himself and earning an invitation to the 2022 Senior Bowl, with Krull close behind. But Warren may face a tougher path to the annual all-star game as Pitt’s tackles have not been as reliable as the team’s interior linemen over the last couple of seasons.

Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, said the Senior Bowl staff was impressed with Pickett back in 2020. Nagy also said he expects Pickett to play in the NFL.

“One sleeper QB that will gain traction after NFL scouts dig into tape is Pitt’s Kenny Pickett,” Nagy said on Twitter. “Tough and instinctive guy that plays the QB position well. [The Senior Bowl] has been fan of Pickett since seeing him at Manning Camp last year."

"He’ll play on Sundays,” Nagy added.

Nagy doubled down on his praise of Pickett in July and noted that NFL decision-makers have shown more appreciation for the quarterback’s game than members of the media have.

“More you watch other guys, more you appreciate how instinctive Kenny Pickett plays the position,” Nagy wrote on Twitter. “Dude sees and feels the game differently. More love for him inside NFL circles than media.”

As for Krull, much is expected of the athletic tight end after he spent most of the 2020 season sidelined with an injury. His last action as a go-to tight end came in 2015, when he was a senior at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kansas. That season, he racked up 745 yards and 13 touchdowns on 52 catches, helping his team to a 12-1 record and a state title. If Krull comes anywhere near replicating that production in 2021, he will become Pitt’s most successful tight end in years.

On the defensive side of the ball, Panthers linebacker Cam Bright and Panthers cornerback Damarri Mathis earned spots on the watch list. Last season, Bright ranked third on the team in tackles, with 53. He also came up with 8.5 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks. Mathis spent the 2020 season recovering from an injury and is expected to play a key role in Pitt’s defensive backfield in 2021. In 2019, Mathis had 11 pass breakups and two picks.

At least five Pitt players earned invitations to the 2021 Senior Bowl, although not all of them decided to attend. Damar Hamlin and Patrick Jones both took part in the event and raised their stock with highlight-reel plays, as Hamlin came up with a late pick, while Jones had a hand in two sacks. They were joined in Mobile, Alabama, by Jimmy Morrissey and Rashad Weaver, both of whom performed well in the trenches. But one notable holdout was Cal Adomitis, a long-snapper who decided to return to Pitt for a super senior season in 2021.

All four of the Pitt players who appeared in the 2021 Senior Bowl were eventually drafted. Jones went to the Minnesota Vikings in the third round, Weaver went to the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round, Hamlin went to the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round and Morrissey went to the Las Vegas Raiders in the seventh.