Pitt offensive linemen impressed by Jurkovec’s ‘moxie’

Panthers seeing Kenny Pickett like traits in new quarterback

Two years ago, Pitt players unanimously described their quarterback in a very similar way as they describe their new signal caller.

Kenny Pickett was known for his toughness, his gutsiness and, his moxie — a trait that has certainly carried over into his brief time with the Steelers.

Now, Pitt is beginning to say the same things about Phil Jurkovec, the Pine-Richland grad who is set to take over the Panthers’ offense after two seasons at Notre Dame and three at Boston College.

“Honestly, he’s fitting right in with the guys,” said Blake Zubovic. “He’s a gutsy guy. He’ll go out there and make a play. A lot of guys on the team really respect that. You really respect a guy with moxie. He’s a team guy. He’s down to earth.”

Zubovic, the Belle Vernon grad, has known Jurkovec since high school. So it’s not as if the sixth-year senior is a totally new commodity to a Pitt team that is littered with talent from Western Pennsylvania.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t have to earn his way, and the respect of his teammates. It seems like that’s already well in motion.

“Phil’s great,” said offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby. “He’s a big dude. He’s real big. He’s really taking control of the offense and understands very well already. It’s gone really well. He’s been good.”

Jurkovec’s career has not exactly gone as smoothly as many thought it might.

He left Pine-Richland as one of the WPIAL’s most decorated quarterbacks ever. But with the Fighting Irish, he got stuck low on the depth chart, and only attempted 17 passes in his two seasons in South Bend.

When he arrived to Boston, he was given the reigns to the Eagles’ offense, and had a respectable first season, passing for 17 touchdowns and 2,558 yards.

But injuries derailed the next couple of seasons for Jurkovec, who was thought to have first-round NFL Draft potential, but played in just 14 games between 2021-2022.

Now, Pitt hopes those adversities have toughened their new quarterback, as they did for Kenny Pickett in his final season of college football. Early indications are the they may have.

“A quarterback, when they have heart — especially in college football — that’s the most important thing,” Zubovic said. “You get the whole team behind you.

“I do see those similarities (with Pickett) in terms of moxie. Those dudes, they’re not afraid to get hit, they’re not scared to stand in and make the throw. That’s stuff the offensive lineman really respect.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Josh Rowntree