Everything about Pitt seemed like the perfect fit for Pat Bostick. The Panthers run a West Coast offense, similar to what Manheim Township High School installed for Bostick. The starting quarterback job is up for grabs, just as Bostick enters his freshman season.
The only thing where the planets didn’t align for Bostick was that Pitt’s spring semester started in early January, before his first semester at Manheim Township ended. That prevented Bostick from graduating early and enrolling in time to participate in spring drills, where he would have been given plenty of repetitions.
Bostick had little choice but to bide his time and finish his senior year at Manheim Township.
“It was very disappointing because it was like a dead period for me,” Bostick said. “I didn’t do much. I was just working out. I wanted to get going, but I kind of rolled with it. There wasn’t much I could have done. It had to be handled that way. I got something out of it, to enjoy my senior year and relax.”
Now that Bostick has enrolled early at Pitt, he is trying to make up for lost time. What Bostick was able to do in the interim was absorb Pitt’s playbook. He has a firm grasp of the West Coast offense because Manheim Township relies on the same principles as the Panthers, from the quick throws to downfield passes that can stretch a defense horizontally or vertically. Bostick thrived in that offense, passing for 7,259 career yards and 82 touchdowns in three seasons.
“That’s part of the reason I went to Pitt, because coach (Matt) Cavanaugh has that offense, and I’m a big believer in the run game first,” Bostick said of Pitt’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “I trust coach Cavanaugh’s offense.”
Learning the playbook wasn’t necessarily difficult for Bostick, considering the protections and runs are the same. What’s changed is the terminology, the comprehensiveness of Pitt’s West Coast offense.
“There’s a lot more to digest, a lot more verbiage to incorporate because there’s a lot more to account for, because guys can cover a lot more ground in college football,” Bostick said. “It’s just the volume of what we’re doing is larger. Other than that, it’s still football.”
And Bostick, as you can see, loves football. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you read that quote and wonder whether it came from the mouth of Tyler Palko or Pat Bostick.
Both love football, are film-room junkies and leaders who someday likely will become coaches. That’s where the similarities end. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Bostick is a prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm and soft touch; the 6-1, 217-pound Palko was a scrambler who turned broken plays into big gains and got by on guts.
Bostick is the first to admit that he loves watching film, digesting the game and looking for opponents’ tendencies.
“I do enjoy that. It’s my strength, really, when you get that extra advantage, knowing the film and the by-product of that preparation,” Bostick said. “You see something happen and understand how to adjust to that look. That’s what really gets my blood flowing about the game. It’s always something that interested me. Therefore I work at it and have a passion for it.
“There’s a lot of ways to win and a lot of things you can do to win. You can utilize your players to take advantage of their weaknesses. It’s cool to see something on film and put it into play.”
What Bostick is learning is to have a passion for fitness. That’s another area where Palko had a major edge. Bostick spent the spring working out at Manheim Township, and quickly came to realize that he wasn’t in the kind of shape Buddy Morris is demanding of Pitt players. Bostick lost 10 pounds the first two weeks alone.
“As much as I thought I needed to do to get in shape to be ready for Buddy’s workout program, I probably had to do 100 times more than that; I had no clue,” Bostick said. “When I first met Buddy, I should have known. I kind of needed that, to tell you the truth. It’s just a reaffirmation of the fact that I’m a freshman and I’ve got a lot of work to do. In no way, shape or form am I ready, but it makes you want to work that much harder to get to that level.”
Not that it has come easily for Bostick.
“Physically has been the hardest thing, just the weight training and conditioning,” Bostick said. “I’ve never seen anything like that, just how rigid and organized Buddy has us working. He has working hard. Buddy is doing a great job. It’s just a lot more physically demanding.
“It’s all for a purpose. It’s kind of like boot camp, being a rookie. He’s just one of those guys that will turn out to be one of the biggest influences and helps to your career. I’m glad we have a guy like that to push us.”
That push is the difference why Bostick could have used a spring semester with Pitt to be ready to compete for the starting quarterback job. Imagine if he had shown up in August 10 pounds overweight. He would have never had a chance.
Instead, Bostick at least has two months before training camp to get oriented to Pitt’s program. Although LeSean McCoy said Bostick’s knowledge of the plays is on par with junior Bill Stull’s and that Bostick is showing composure in the huddle during seven-on-seven play, Bostick says he’s not where he needs to be.
Make no mistake, Bostick wants to win the starting quarterback job. But not at all costs. Although he regrets missing spring drills, like Palko, Bostick says it was due to circumstances out of his control and he only worries about what he can control: how hard he works and how much effort he gives every day. Bostick also said he took no joy in watching Stull and redshirt freshman Kevan Smith struggle during the Blue-Gold Game.
“I viewed it as I did all along, that there’s three guys trying to play our best,” Bostick said. “They had their bumps in the spring. I saw them play very well. I’m not one whatsoever to wish someone else to do bad because I want to start. I’m not going to sit there and beg and pray that Bill or Kevan messes up because that’s not a football team at all. This is a team that’s trying to win games.”
In that regard, bringing in a player with Pat Bostick’s attitude (and quarterback skills) seems like the perfect fit for Pitt.