Pitt transfer QB Browne done for season
eligibility, eventually settling on Pitt.
“The initial attraction was probably the staff here’s attraction to myself,” Browne said Jan. 7 shortly after he arrived. “When I started to open up the recruiting process for a second time, I was kind of sitting back waiting for schools to come to me. … We’ve got a great team, a chance to win a lot of ballgames, so all that kind of coming together, it felt like it was a great opportunity for me.”
And, for a while, it was. Browne moved into a place on the South Side so he could walk to Pitt’s facility each day for practice and workouts. Narduzzi officially named him the starter Aug. 22, and, three days later, he was voted as one of four team captains — a post he also held at USC.
Once the games started, Browne was up and down. He did enough to hold off Football Championship Subdivision Youngstown State in overtime but was admittedly a bit jittery. The next two weeks, against top10 opponents Penn State and Oklahoma State, he was subbed out for Ben DiNucci, and the second benching led to the backup getting the start in the ACC opener at Georgia Tech.
But Browne’s time as No. 2 didn’t last long, as he was back starting for the Rice game and made the most of it, lighting up the scoreboard with 410 yards and four touchdowns while completing 28 of 42 passes, all career bests. Just when the outlook was getting rosier, Browne got knocked out of that Syracuse game on a failed blitz pick-up that caused confusion between tight end Matt Flanagan and running back Qadree Ollison.
“Qadree kind of got just a little bit in Flanagan’s way … Flanagan couldn’t get over tight enough, unfortunately,” Narduzzi explained Monday.
Unfortunate is right, as Browne will finish his first, last and only season at Pitt 96 of 135 for 997 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with 12 sacks. His .711 completion percentage ranks seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“It’s difficult for anybody. I don’t care if it’s a senior that transferred in or a freshman, it’s difficult anytime you lose a guy for a year,” Narduzzi said. “It’s something he’s worked hard for; an entire year goes into that. He had spring ball, he made a quick move from California. It’s hard on anybody when that happens, and then with the surgery, not the way you want it planned out, so my heart goes out to him and his family.”
As far as Browne’s future, Narduzzi guessed he might be able to start throwing again in seven or eight weeks, if he doesn’t try to rush back. As for Pitt’s future, it might make more sense now to burn freshman Kenny Pickett’s redshirt, and Narduzzi said “there’s a plan” for how — or maybe if — to use him behind DiNucci.
“That’s kind of our thoughts going in, just telling Ben, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to try to do,’ and try to stick with that plan,” Narduzzi said. “Sometimes you have a plan going in, and sometimes the plans change.”
Just like they did for Max Browne.
Max Browne is hit by Syracuse lineman Alton Robinson Saturday. Browne was injured in the third quarter.