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Kenny Pickett earns spot on Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list

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The Pitt quarterback threw for 2,408 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was placed on the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list on Thursday. The award was established in 1987 and is given to the best fourth-year or senior quarterback in the country as selected by the Golden Arm Foundation.

Pickett was one of 63 signal-callers in the nation honored with a spot on the watch list and one of 11 from the ACC. The ACC placed more quarterbacks on the watch list than any other Power Five conference, as the Big Ten had 10 honorees, the Pac-12 had eight, the Big 12 had seven and the SEC had six.

Joining Pickett from the ACC were Brennan Armstrong of Virginia, Braxton Burmeister of Virginia Tech, Malik Cunningham of Louisville, Tommy DeVito of Syracuse, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest, Sam Howell of North Carolina, Phil Jurkovec of Boston College, D’Eriq King of Miami, Devin Leary of NC State and McKenzie Milton of Florida State. The only ACC teams left off the list were Duke and Georgia Tech.

Last season, Pickett threw for 2,408 yards and 13 touchdowns, completing 61.1 percent of his 332 pass attempts. He also posted a quarterback rating of 129.6, setting a new personal best, and added eight more scores on foot to bring his touchdown total for the season to 21. However, Pickett struggled with turnovers, as he threw nine picks for the second straight year. And drops were an issue for Pitt’s wide receivers once again.

No Pitt quarterback has ever won the Golden Arm Award in its 34-year existence. However, ACC signal-callers have taken home the award three times since 2000, with the most recent being Deshaun Watson in 2016.

The most recent Golden Arm Award winner was Mac Jones of Alabama, and he was preceded by Joe Burrow of LSU. Both SEC standouts went in the first round of the NFL draft. However, Jones threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2020, while Burrow threw for 5,671 yards and 60 scores in 2019. The closest Pickett has come to those figures was in 2019, when he amassed a total of 3,098 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.

The winner of the award will be presented the trophy at the Golden Arm Award banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore on Dec. 10.