PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – The assumption is quarterback Phil Jurkovec is back home for the one-year reunion. The Pine-Richland grad will keep the Panthers momentum going and at the same time help his NFL stock. There is one Pitt transfer with a different idea.
Quarterback Christian Veilleux moved from Penn State with the understanding it’s an open competition to be the next starter.
“That’s what I was told when I came here and that’s one of the big reasons why I came here is to have that equal chance to compete and start and be the guy,” Veilleux said Wednesday. “I think I have the ability to be that guy.”
“It’s going to a great, competitive environment in the spring and summer in camp. I can’t wait. It’s what I love to be a part of. At Penn State it was a very competitive environment and I think it’s similar here with the guys we have in the room.”
As he talked to the Pitt coaches, he knew they were heavy into bring Jurkovec in. Veilleux looks at the positives of being able to bounce ideas of a guy with five years of NCAA experience.
“Having Phil here is a benefit to me and my learning experience,” Veilleux said. “He’s definitely done it longer than me, so I can learn from him. I think it will bring a very good competitive environment. I think we are going to elevate each other and make each other better. I’m looking forward to competing with him and developing that relationship of being friends and quarterbacks on the same team and helping each other out.”
As he was weighing his transfer options, finding a place where he would start right away was important, as was being close to home and the coaches and people. Veilleux said Pitt coaches communicated every single day while he was in the portal. He was also recruited out of high school by Pat Narduzzi and Frank Cignetti, while he was at Boston College.
Veilleaux said he’s learned twice as much about being a quarterback in the four weeks he’s been at Pitt than previously in his entire career. In five games at Penn State, the 6’4”, right-hander completed 23 of 35 passes for 282 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“It’s very pro-style, which I love,” Veilleaux said of Cignetti’s offense. “I think the NFL aspect of it brings a lot of good stuff to the table as a quarterback because you like to be in a system like that.”
He said results aside from the 2022 season, he sees a great fit for him in that system. Adding just because they called a lot of run plays this past season doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for more passing this year. He believes it’s all up to what the quarterbacks and receivers prove they can do.
“I love being back there and dicing up defenses, making throws and going through progressions and making the right reads,” Veilleux said. “I think that’s what quarterback is all about, being systematic and every single play just torching them.”
“We have the potential to do a lot of damage this year and I expect to do just that.”
He’s seen what Kenny Pickett did and how he grew under Narduzzi. He knows it’s a different offensive coordinator, but watching the now Steelers quarterback gave the 20-year-old Canadian some inspiration of what he could be.
“These opportunities come at different times and at different moments,” Veilleux said. “Everything happens for a reason. It happened to me my freshman year at Penn State. Everybody’s journey is different. Everybody’s path is different. Obviously, I have an open mind to this process, but I have goals and aspirations that I’m going to work hard to reach. I don’t have any expectations or demands. I just want to have an equal opportunity to start.”