Yarnell picked Pitt for 'the coaches and the city'
Nate Yarnell made the atypical move of committing to Pitt without ever visiting. But the atypical becomes the norm in a spring that has been anything but, and on Thursday, the Austin (Tex.) Lake Travis declared himself the Panthers’ quarterback for the 2021 class.
While Yarnell may not have visited Pitt, he felt comfortable enough with what he knew of the Panthers to make the call.
“It was the coaches and the city,” Yarnell told Panther-Lair.com after he announced his commitment. “Coach (Pat) Narduzzi and Coach (Mark) Whipple are two fantastic people that I want to play under and learn from. Pitt is in a great city with passionate fans and people who love Pitt football, and it’s a culture I can’t wait to be a part of.
In lieu of visiting Pitt, Yarnell took a virtual visit two weeks ago, as assistant director of player personnel Karlo Zovko showed him around the campus and the facilities. It wasn’t quite an in-person tour, but it gave Yarnell a sense of what to expect from life on campus in Pittsburgh.
“I saw the campus, where everything is, how my day might be, what the facilities are like and just what my life would be like. I talked to a lot of people about the campus, too, and got a lot of info so I felt like I could make a decision on it.
“With June up in the air and the dead period maybe extending until then, we were looking at it and seeing that it might be August or September until I could visit anywhere, so I took that into account and wanted to make a decision knowing the visits might not happen.”
For any quarterback, the offensive coordinator will be a key element in the decision to commit, and Yarnell said that Whipple played no small role in his recruitment.
“He’s a guy who has seen a lot of football and he’s really knowledgeable about the game, so I’m happy to learn under him. He is just really respected and he knows the game better than anyone.
“It’s been really good talking to him. As these weeks have gone on and these months have gone on, I’ve really talked to him a lot and we have a really good relationship. I’m excited to work with him.”
Yarnell is one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects in the class of 2021. He wasn’t the starter at Lake Travis last season; four-star Texas signee Hudson Card was. But when Card got hurt, Yarnell stepped in and started six games - a stretch that saw him threw for 1,248 yards, 11 touchdowns and five picks on 67.4% completions.
Lake Travis went 6-0 in those games, including 3-0 in the playoffs. Card returned at the end of the playoffs but Lake Travis ultimately lost the state championship game.
This fall, Yarnell will be the No. 1 quarterback, and he’s looking forward to finishing what he started last year.
“Being able to commit to Pitt and have my future set, it will allow me to focus on this year and winning a state championship,” he said. “That’s my goal and my responsibility as a leader now.”
Once his high school career is over, Yarnell will make the quick transition to college, as he plans to graduate in December and enroll at Pitt in January 2021. He’s looking forward to jumping into Whipple’s offense as soon as he can.
“The high school I come from is well-known for having a good system and I think it’s a perfect fit with what they do at Pitt,” he said. “It’s a spread pro-style system and Pitt threw the ball a ton this year. It’s an offense I’m looking forward to being a part of.”
Yarnell, 6’6” 205, is Pitt’s eighth commitment for the 2021 class.