Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Kedon Slovis transferring to Pittsburgh: Ex-USC starting QB in line to replace Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett

Former USC quarterback Kedon Slovis will transfer to Pittsburgh, the junior announced in the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday. Slovis has up to two years of eligibility remaining with the Panthers. 

Slovis started three years at USC, throwing for 7,576 yards and 58 touchdowns with a 68.4% completion percentage. As a junior, he added 2,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in just nine games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. 

His departure comes weeks after Lincoln Riley was hired from Oklahoma to take over the program. USC now has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, one of whom, freshman Jaxon Dart, threw for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions in six games for the Trojans this season. 

“I was so excited when Coach Narduzzi called, because I knew that Pitt and this program were the right fit for me to keep developing into the best leader I can be,” Slovis wrote. “I’m ready to win now — and talking to the players who are returning, and seeing how hungry they are for next season, that got me pumped. They have a lot of talented players coming back. And, man … getting to throw the ball to the guy who just won the Biletnikoff?? That’s something you don’t pass up. The culture and identity that Coach Narduzzi has created is everything I want to be a part of.”

Slovis arrives at Pitt after the Panthers won the ACC championship in 2021 — the first outright conference championship in program history. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett was named a Heisman finalist after throwing for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior, while sophomore receiver Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff Trophy after catching 93 passes for 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

Here’s what Slovis’ transfer decision means heading forward. 

Rehab spot

Slovis looked like a future first-round NFL Draft pick as a freshman, but ultimately struggled to replicate his 3,502-yard, 30-touchdown performance as a freshman. His passer rating dropped from 167.6 as a freshman to 132.7 as a third-year player in Graham Harrell’s air raid system. 

At Pitt, Slovis is moving from an air raid into more of a pro-style system that might be able to better prepare him for the NFL. The pressure won’t be the same in Pittsburgh as in Los Angeles, especially with Riley taking the program into a new era. Pitt will be a fresh start. 

Perfect marriage

The 247Sports transfer ratings listed Slovis as the No. 6 available quarterback — one of six blue-chip transfer QBs on the board — right behind former Oklahoma standout Spencer Rattler and LSU starter Max Johnson. For both Pitt and Slovis, finding a partner early will prove to be highly advantageous. 

Slovis is a deadeye passer and high-level processor who is in need of a fresh start. With the ACC once again open in 2022, Pitt adds the kind of quarterback a program needs to compete. The ACC was arguably the best quarterback conference in America in 2021, and mainstays like Wake Forest‘s Sam Hartman, Virginia‘s Brennan Armstrong and Miami‘s Tyler Van Dyke will be back in the ACC Coastal. Slovis slots right into the conversation. 

Keeping things rolling

After seeing Pickett take his game from average to Heisman-caliber, Pitt fans should be excited to see one of the most talented transfers on the market find a new home in the ACC Coastal. With Pickett leaving, the Panthers did not have a quarterback on the roster who threw more than 14 passes in 2021. 

One thing to watch? Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple suddenly left the program to take the same position at Nebraska. While Slovis is a talented signal-caller, he is committing to a program without a clear plan heading forward offensively. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi — a defense-first coach — has to get the hire right. Getting Addison back is a good start. 

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