No. 12 Pittsburgh will be without star quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett for its Peach Bowl game against No. 10 Michigan State after he announced Thursday that he won't play in the game as he prepares for the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickett's announcement followed a similar opt-out announcement from Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III earlier in the day, meaning neither team will have its offensive star for the Dec. 30 game in Atlanta.
"To the University of Pittsburgh, thank you for all that you have given me over the past five years," Pickett wrote in a social media post. "Coach Narduzzi, thank you for being by my side throughout my entire career and teaching me life lessons every step of the way. One of the best moments of my football career was standing on stage with you, the team, and our ACC Championship trophy."
Pickett, who was a fifth-year senior this season, is Pitt's all-time leader in yards passing, completions, total offensive yards and passing touchdowns. He ranks as the No. 15 overall player and No. 2 quarterback in the 2022 CBS Sports NFL Draft Prospect Rankings.
"Thank you, Kenny Pickett," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi wrote in a social media post. "It has been an honor to be your head coach, from the time you arrived as a freshman five years ago, right up until the moment you walked off the field in Charlotte as an ACC champion, you gave the University of Pittsburgh absolutely everything you had. Your leadership and toughness raised the bar for our entire program. On behalf of Panther Nation, thank you for all you have given us, on and off the field."
With Pickett out for the Peach Bowl, the Panthers could turn to redshirt junior Nick Patti. to start at quarterback. As Pickett's backup this season, Patti completed 12 of 14 passes for 140 yards.