Pitt football notebook: New QB Jeff George Jr. joins team

September 19, 2018

If Pitt needs to make any improvements to its training facility, perhaps a bigger room for quarterback meetings might be in order.

Coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed Monday that quarterback Jeff George Jr., the son of 12-year NFL quarterback Jeff George and a transfer from Michigan, joined the team. He was introduced to his new teammates Sunday night.

“We’re happy to have Jeff. We’re happy to have his family involved in the program,” Narduzzi said. “We’re still waiting to find out if he’s eligible (this season) or not.”

George, who graduated from Illinois after starting five games there as a sophomore last season, transferred to Michigan this summer and worked with the Wolverines throughout training camp.

George visited Pitt in the spring, but he chose to enroll at Michigan.

“I felt like he got there and felt like maybe he made a mistake and decided to come here,” Narduzzi said.

When it’s time for quarterback meetings, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson will need eight chairs for everyone. Five quarterbacks are walk-ons, including George, Hempfield’s Justin Sliwoski, Peters Township’s Jake Cortes, Indiana’s Jake Zilinskas and Tyler Zelinski, a transfer from Erie Community College. That’s in addition to scholarship guys Kenny Pickett, JC transfer Ricky Town and freshman Nick Patti.

George is the second son of a No. 1 overall draft pick to enroll at Pitt in the past year. His dad was the top selection in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, and Pitt basketball player Malik Ellison’s dad, Pervis, was the No. 1 pick by the Sacramento Kings in 1989.

A third son of a No. 1 overall draft choice will be in Pittsburgh this weekend. Albany quarterback Vincent Testaverde, whose father, Vinny, was selected No. 1 by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 1987, is the starting quarterback for the Great Danes, who will open the season against Pitt on Saturday at Heinz Field.

New returners

The first shot at replacing Quadree Henderson as a punt returner will go to senior wide receiver Rafael Araujo-Lopes. Junior Maurice Ffrench is listed as the No. 1 kickoff returner.

Henderson recorded 21 of 23 punt returns, including two touchdowns, and 25 of 30 kickoff returns last season. So neither Araujo-Lopes nor Ffrench has done much returning at Pitt.

Araujo-Lopes has done it only four times in his two-year Pitt career, including a 69-yard kickoff return in 2016. Ffrench returned two kickoffs for 11 yards last season.

The key is Narduzzi’s comfort level with Araujo-Lopes.

“I think when you think about returning punts, the No. 1 thing is that we have possession of the football after the end of that play,” he said. “It starts with that, and we can have more, maybe an electric guy back there.”

Freshman Shocky Jacques-Louis and redshirt freshman Paris Ford also might get return opportunities.

“We may get different looks. It depends,” Narduzzi said. “But we’ve got faith and trust in what that guy’s going to do in game time.”

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