Home Youth jersey Kenny Pickett thanks youth soccer camp roommate Dwayne Haskins for creating a...

Kenny Pickett thanks youth soccer camp roommate Dwayne Haskins for creating a ‘competitive advantage’ in him

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Kenny Pickett knew he was going to be here at a young age. He planned it from the start. On the eve of becoming an NFL quarterback, likely selected by a team in need of a first-round starter next month, he acknowledges the decade of sacrifice that brought him to this moment, starting with his involvement to annual football camps such as those led by Jim Cantafio when he was 11 years old.

“At 11, there was no question. Nobody could tell me otherwise. I was so determined on that,” Pickett recently told Adam Breneman in a high-profile conversation for his program, Breneman Shows Up, talking about his desire to be an NFL quarterback He talked about the sacrifices he made as a tween to dedicate himself to the pursuit of being an elite traveling quarterback hours with his father to attend the Cantafio camps.

“The first time I did that was kind of when I fell in love with the work, the process of becoming a good quarterback, going through all of his drills, listening to him teach,” said said Pickett. “There are videos of me talking in chalk at 11 and 12 that he used to do with us. I love that kind of stuff.”

And he was certainly not alone. In fact, another young man who was part of those camps could be a future teammate if he ends up being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, whom they picked last season.

“I knew where I wanted to go and there were a lot of great players there. Dwayne Haskins was there,” Pickett said. “I was obsessed with trying to be the absolute best, so it’s like I wanted to face Dwayne Haskins every weekend, and I learned a lot from him. We were roommates at Team USA , and our friendship really started there, and we’re friends to this day. And that’s where that competitive edge starts.”

Both young men are from New Jersey, although Haskins’ family moved to Maryland when he was in high school. Pickett went to Pitt, while Haskins went to Ohio State after initially committing to Maryland. Unlike his former camp roommate, Haskins declared himself early for the draft. His career hasn’t entirely gone to plan since then.

Of course, Pickett is hoping for a different career outcome after finally having his breakout season in 2021 for the Panthers. He completed 334 of 497 pass attempts last season for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns on seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 165.3.

Many analysts believe he’s the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class, comparing favorably in that regard to Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Carson Strong, Matt Corall and Desmond Ridder. But teams recruiting first-round quarterbacks are looking at the long term. How well will these competitive soccer camps against Haskins and others pay off in the long run?