Patti could start for Pitt in Sun Bowl after Slovis’ exit

sun bowl
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH — Nick Patti’s long journey at Pittsburgh could end with one more unlikely start. The senior quarterback is in the mix to play when the Panthers (8-4) take on No. 18 UCLA (9-3) in the Sun Bowl because Kedon Slovis entered the transfer portal.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Monday that he is holding an open competition between Patti and freshman Nate Yarnell, who started in a victory over Western Michigan in September when both Slovis and Patti were out with injuries.

“Based on today’s practice, they will do it daily, but Nick Patti was on fire today,” Narduzzi said. “So, off of today, it’s Nick Patti. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Patti started the Peach Bowl last year for Pitt after Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett opted out and completed 2 of 5 passes before leaving with a broken collarbone in the first quarter of what ended up being a loss to Michigan State.

Narduzzi did not go into details about the specifics around Slovis’ departure. Slovis, a USC transfer, completed just 59% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Narduzzi said he didn’t consider going away from Slovis, whose numbers dipped in the second half of the season as Pitt became a more run-first team behind running back Israel Abanikanda.

“I love Kedon,” Narduzzi said. “Kedon is a great kid and did a nice job for us. He helped us in winning eight football games. I believe that at that point he was the best quarterback to lead our 2022 season.”

Who will be the best quarterback to lead the Panthers in 2023 is uncertain. Pittsburgh native Phil Jurkovec is transferring back home after spending time at Notre Dame and Boston College. Christian Veilleux, a backup at Penn State, is also transferring to Pitt.

Narduzzi declined to answer questions about either player, citing NCAA rules that won’t allow him to comment on incoming players until the signing period opens Wednesday.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.