Pitt QB Kenny Pickett will skip Peach Bowl to begin training for NFL draft

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Kenny Pickett will not play in the Peach Bowl.

Pickett, the Pitt senior quarterback who emerged as one of the top players in the country, announced Thursday night that he will not play in the bowl game against Michigan State in order to begin training for the 2022 NFL draft. Pickett is expected to be a first-round pick, maybe even the first quarterback off the board.

Pickett was Pitt’s starter for the past four seasons. A fifth-year senior in 2021, Pickett took full advantage of the extra season of eligibility provided by the NCAA after the 2020 season played amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pickett blossomed from a solid ACC starter into a Heisman Trophy finalist, breaking many of Dan Marino’s program records along the way.

Pickett threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns with just seven interceptions this season, leading Pitt to its first ACC title. For his efforts, Pickett finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.

In his final game in a Pitt uniform, Pickett led the Panthers to a 45-21 victory over Wake Forest in the ACC title game. He threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and also had a highlight reel 58-yard touchdown run in the win.

Overall for his career, Pickett threw for 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns. Both are program records.

Without Pickett, the 11-2 Panthers will likely turn to backup Nick Patti, who has thrown for 458 yards and three touchdowns on 40 of 62 attempts as the No. 2 option behind Pickett over the past three seasons.

Pickett isn’t the only high-profile player not playing in the Peach Bowl. Earlier Thursday, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III also announced that he is skipping the game to begin NFL draft prep.

Walker, who finished sixth in the Heisman vote, rushed for 1,646 yards and 18 touchdowns in his lone season at MSU. Walker played his first two seasons at Wake Forest before emerging as a star with the Spartans.

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