The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time making Kenny Pickett their top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Being the only quarterback taken in the first round, and having a tremendous five year career at the University of Pittsburgh, Pickett was back in his hometown of Ocean Township, New Jersey for a unique honor.
The same fields Pickett grew up playing pop warner football were being named after him.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Ken Pickett Sr. told Yahoo! Sports. “This is where I spent most of my time with him when he was growing up, on these practice fields.”
Like his father, Pickett has fond memories of growing up playing football on the field which now carry his name.
“I remember being on this particular field when I was 9 or 10 years old,” he said. “Bill Cowley and my dad were my coaches, and I’m best friends with a lot of the guys I played with back then, and they’re here today.
“For me, this is special because I grew up there, and all these kids are doing the same thing I did. And hopefully I give them motivation to keep chasing their dreams.”
The honor goes well beyond Pickett, the player. It goes deep into the area and those who had a hand in helping Pickett become the player he is today. A professional in every aspect of the word.
“It’s more than just recognizing Kenny’s accomplishments,” Ocean Township head coach Don Klein said. “It is important for our community because of the person that Kenny is.
“I remember being at a Pop Warner camp when he was about 10 or 11. We had passing drills in the afternoon he was in like fifth grade and camp went up to 8th grade. And the older kids were all asking him to throw the ball to him. And he said, ‘I only have one football and I am going to throw it to the person who gives us the best chance to score.’ When you have that awareness at that young an age, you have a chance to be pretty special.”
Pickett has just under a month until he reports to his first professional training camp, and he is planning on spending the majority of the next month on the jersey shore training and spending time with family and friends.
But don’t let that fool you, Pickett is focused on the new task at hand — to be the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“The goal is to get on the field. You can’t do anything without getting on the field,” Pickett said. “I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to put myself in the best position.”
Pickett views the naming of the field after him as his football journey almost coming full circle. A chance for him to help motivate the next group of young players who have their eyes on big goals.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces is really special, and I’m just incredibly grateful to have the field named after me,” Pickett said.
“So many people helped me get to where I am today and a lot of them were here, a lot of them were at my draft party. I hold those people close to me. They are very special and they all know who they are. I definitely wouldn’t be here without their love and support.”
The Steelers report to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, something the team hasn’t done since 2019. In this regard, Pickett won’t be the only player getting used to their new surroundings, but expectations are high for the former Pitt quarterback to put his best foot forward when it matters most.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.