As a sophomore in high school in suburban Philadelphia, the player who has since become perhaps the best tight end prospect in a generation was a backup quarterback. Kyle Pitts ran the read option and would occasionally roll out on a naked bootleg. And he never once had designs to actually remain at the position.
“I sucked at quarterback,” Pitts said.
Pitts is not the first pass-catching prospect who once played quarterback. But most of them are moved at the behest of coaches. Pitts was the rare quarterback who didn’t want to play quarterback. He transferred from Abington High School to Archbishop Wood with the plan to catch passes on a full-time basis.
“He never took one snap and he never had one inclination or I never had one idea of playing him at quarterback,” said Steve Devlin, Pitts’ coach at Archbishop Wood and now the defensive coordinator at Ursinus College (Pa.). “He was a receiver. There was no doubt about that.”
Pitts played tight end/wide receiver for two years in high school before going to Florida, where he was first-team all-SEC the past two seasons and has become the top tight end prospect in this month’s NFL Draft — and one of the best players in the draft regardless of position. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked Pitts No. 2, behind only Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Pitts has dreamed of being the “first non-quarterback to come off the board” in the draft, a possibility that could make him the highest-drafted tight end in decades. And it started by simply moving from passer to pass catcher five years ago.
Pitts’ high school quarterback was Jack Colyar, who also transferred to Archbishop Wood the same year as Pitts. Pitts felt no longing for Colyar’s role. The two worked out together during the summer before the school year, and it became clear that Pitts was playing the right position. No matter where Colyar threw the ball, Pitts would catch it.