Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett is only 23 years old, but he’s already changing the game of football.
Pickett, who many believe will be the first quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, was bestowed with one of the highest honors a football player can receive: Having a rule changed because of him. It all stemmed from the ACC Championship Game, in which Pickett ran for a 58-yard touchdown, all because he knew how to manipulate the rules to his advantage.
KENNY PICKETT FAKED THE SLIDE AND RAN 58 YARDS FOR THE TD pic.twitter.com/EypNNJZYHE— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 5, 2021
Recent efforts to protect quarterbacks led to stiff penalties in the NCAA for defenders who hit a sliding quarterback. As a result players were coached to avoid quarterbacks when they begin to slide, which Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson mentioned after the game.
“You just train your players, as soon as your quarterback starts sliding, you stop because if you touch him it’s going to be a penalty. He started his slide, and our kids stopped playing. I don’t think he did it intentionally, but if he did, he’s brilliant.”
It turned out to be brilliant, because Pickett told the Associated Press his intention was to fake the slide so he could freeze the defenders. The whole plan worked a charm. Now the NCAA is intervening, ruling that faking the slide creates an unfair advantage.
“Any time a ball carrier begins, simulates, or fakes a feet-first slide, the ball should be declared dead by the on field officials at that point. The intent of the rule is player safety, and the objective is to give a ball carrier an option to end the play by sliding feet first and to avoid contact. To allow the ball carrier to fake a slide would compromise the defense that is being instructed to let up when the ball carrier slides feet first.”
While the rule isn’t being called “The Kenny Pickett Rule,” we all know what it is. The young quarterback now joins luminaries like Tom Brady and Ricky Williams to have a rule invented because of them.
What an accomplishment.