PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – The questions were not leading, but the answers said what the Panthers have in quarterback Phil Jurkovec and what they lacked in Kedon Slovis last season.
“He brings a factor I don’t think we had last year,” said center Jake Kradel. “He brings that toughness, that Pittsburgh toughness. If we need a yard, he’s going to get a yard. He’s a guy you like to play for and want to block for.”
“He’s a great leader,” said tight end Gavin Bartholomew. “I feel like that is something we were trying to find, is a leader.”
“A lot of that has to be toughness in the game,” Jurkovec said of leading, adding he tries to take command every time he’s out there. “Being able to take hits, stay in the pocket and stay strong.
It’s tough to do.”
Again, not asked about Slovis, but the responses to the questions of Jurkovec’s leadership tells a lot of what the Panthers players think of having the transfer QB.
Kradel added he feels like his former high school opponent his great. In his words Jurkovec steps to the plate and demands their attention. The Pine-Richland record-setter demands they are locked in and ready to go.
“He’s vocal,” Bartholomew said. “When we are in the huddle, he’s like ‘come on, we got to get a first down. We got to get this drive or a touchdown’. Then in the weight room, he’s telling everyone we have to start working.”
“It’s been great,” Kradel said. “He’s a Western PA guy. We kind of like the same things so it’s good to hang around him. See his leadership and development throughout this spring, summer and fall. He’s going to have a great year. We are going to keep building that bond throughout this 2023 season.”
Beyond the leadership component of Jurkovec’s game, Bartholomew said he’s like a tight end playing quarterback. He said that will make it hard for defenders to bring down the 245-pound QB. He also has the elusiveness to make plays in space. When he’s not running, he can move around in the pocket and extend plays with a big arm.
The only time he played as many as 10 games in a season, Jurkovec completed 61% of his passes for 2,558 yards with 17 touchdowns to five interceptions. It was 2021 with Boston College. He also ran for 322 yards (remember sacks count against college QB rushing totals) and five more touchdowns.
“I’m pumped,” Jurkovec said. “I’m ready for it. It feels right being in that stadium. It’s so cool, that environment. We watched the Steelers game the other day. It’s an awesome feeling having grown up watching so many games there, now I get to play in it.”