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College football: Pitt QB Kenny Pickett to skip Peach Bowl, begin NFL prep

College football: Pitt QB Kenny Pickett to skip Peach Bowl, begin NFL prep
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett, shown Sept. 8, 2018, finished third in Heisman Trophy voting this year. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett announced Thursday night that he is opting out of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to begin preparing for next year's NFL Draft.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Pickett thanked the school, head coach Pat Narduzzi and his teammates.

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"I am incredibly proud to say I was a part of the team that brought back another trophy to the City of Champions," Pickett wrote. "With love and gratitude, I have decided to forgo the Peach Bowl and begin training for the 2022 NFL Draft. Thank you, Pittsburgh!"

Pickett is considered one of the top quarterbacks available in the upcoming draft after a stellar season in which he threw for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns to lead Pitt to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

The senior quarterback finished third in Heisman Trophy voting this year. He also earned ACC Player of the Year honors and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award after his record-setting season.

The Panthers ended the season with an 11-2 record and earned their first New Year's Six selection to the Peach Bowl, where they will play Michigan State on Dec. 30.

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Nick Patti and Davis Beville are the top quarterbacks behind Pickett. Pitt also could opt to explore the transfer portal for Pickett's successor.

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