While a host of local sports teams play their games inside of Heinz Field, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Panthers who train at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and utilize the two fields in the area to conduct their practice sessions.
The newest Steeler will have a relatively easy transition simply moving from one field to another, with quarterback Kenny Pickett now going from the Panthers in college to wearing the black and gold in the NFL as his next step in his NFL journey. Something he’s seen in his mind’s eye for a while now.
“Yeah, I don’t know how weird it’s going to be because every time I walked off Heinz Field, the two practice fields, the farthest end, I’ve envisioned myself being at the two practice fields as soon as you walk out of that facility”, Pickett told reporters when asked if it would be weird entering the Steelers side for today’s press conference rather than the Pitt side, courtesy of a transcript provided by the team’s media department.
“I’m right where I said I would be, and I knew I would be. It was five years of college, but honestly since I was five years old, I’ve been working towards this. So, I’m exactly where I thought I would be, and I can’t wait to get to work”.
During the pre-draft process, Pickett of course always left his options open in terms of where he might be drafted, leaving it as a blessing no matter where he might be taken, but of course there is added weight behind the opportunity to stay in the 412 area code and play for the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin.
As a bonus, offensive coordinator Matt Canada helped recruit him at Pitt when he was there in 2016, even though Canada was gone by the time Pickett took the field for the Panthers. Still, there is an added layer of familiarity there.
Pickett is actually a New Jersey native, born and raised in Oakhurst in Ocean County. He originally committed to Temple University coming out of high school, in Philadelphia, but then reversed course and agreed to go to Pittsburgh—again, with Canada on the recruiting pitch.
While there, he played for five seasons, from 2017 through 2021, completing 1,045 of 1,674 passes for 12,303 yards and 81 touchdowns to 32 interceptions. He had a breakout senior season, going 334-for-497 (by far his most accurate year) for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 165.3.
He has big shoes to fill with Roethlisberger now gone, but the Steelers believe that he has the talent and demeanor to make that transition. Roethlisberger was a Hall of Famer, and it’s incredibly rare for any team to go from one to another without missing a beat, but they are giving it their best shot.