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The Great Kenny Pickett

By BJ Bennett
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At a program where some of college football's best ever have played, Kenny Pickett has a place.

With Kenny Pickett's announcement that he will not play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, thus ending his college career, it's worth reflecting on all that Pittsburgh's star quarterback accomplished. Pickett just had a run for the record books. His profile, with 12,303 passing yards, 81 passing touchdowns, 809 rushing yards, 20 rushing scores and the Panthers' first-ever ACC Championship, is an all-time great one. That passing yardage total is good for second in league history. That record-setting resume also comes with a ring.

At a program where some of college football's best ever have played, Pickett has a place.

Pickett, a Heisman Trophy finalist, the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the ACC Player of the Year, currently ranks fifth nationally with 4,319 passing yards and third in the country with 42 passing touchdowns, the latter standing as a new single-season conference mark. He has multiple scores in every game this year, including six passing touchdowns against Western Michigan, five versus New Hampshire and four each against Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia.

Most importantly of all, Pickett has eleven wins. 

Some statistical context can offer even more insight into Pickett's incredible career. He is one of just five college football players this millennium with at least 12,000 passing yards, 80 passing touchdowns, 800 rushing yards and 20 rushing scores, joining Case Keenum, Dan Lefevour, Baker Mayfield and Colt McCoy; only Mayfield, who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy and was the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, reached those milestones in fewer games played.

Those comparisons come with a frame of reference and just a frame alike. 

The memories, from this season alone, are many. His September showcase against New Hampshire was was one of the most proficient performances college football has ever seen; Pickett, in that contest, became the only quarterback since at least 2000 with at least 400 passing yards on 85% completions with five passing touchdowns and a rushing score in one game. There was his 302 passing yards in a winning effort against Clemson's famed defense. There were then 340 more in a deciding divisional victory over Virginia.

An ACC Championship Game stage saw Pickett, who scored three total touchdowns, help Pittsburgh to 45 points in a triumph over Wake Forest. His "fake slide" on a 55-yard scoring run immediately became one of the most talked about plays of the entire college football season and nearly-immediately resulted in an NCAA rule change. Pickett ultimately completed 20-of-33 passes and, in a game where Pittsburgh intercepted Sam Hartman four times, avoided the key mistakes.

There has been a remarkable persistence to Pickett, relentless in his progress and improvement. After completing just 4-of-16 passes for eight yards with an interception in his ACC Championship Game debut against Clemson in 2018, Pickett promptly returned to top 3,000 yards passing in 2019, set a then-career high in passer rating and top 20 total touchdowns in 2020 and then have one of the best seasons in college football history in 2021. This story saved its best chapter for last.

Pickett walked off the field for the final time in college career as a champion.  

The spotlight will stay on Pickett over the next few months and beyond. He is rightfully considered a top prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft and stands as one of the quarterbacks set to be selected in the first round. Some have even projected Pickett as the possible number one overall pick. Upcoming events like the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine will help determine when and where he goes. Expectations, for Pickett, are high.  

Though new opportunities awat for the Pittsburgh star, he has already been on the next level for quite some time.

With records and a ring, Pickett just had the type of career that comes with a lasting impression. He made plays and made history along the way.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports