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Steelers Invite Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec to Rookie Camp as Tight End

The Pittsburgh Steelers have invited Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec and Pine-Richland alum to their rookie camp as a tight end.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Pitt Panthers QB Phil Jurkovec Rookie Camp
Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec drops back to pass against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have invited former Pitt Panthers quarterback and Pine-Richland alum Phil Jurkovec to their rookie camp, where he will try out as a tight end, according to report by Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Jurkovec — who measured in at nearly 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds at the Pitt pro day in March — is trying to make it as a tight end at the next level. He’s been working at the position since October, since the Pitt bye week. While he only received one offensive snap after switching from quarterback to tight end, he’s optimistic about the future.

“I think I’ve got soft hands, I can catch the ball really well, but just working on the types of cutting, doing all of that, especially getting more one-on-one types of reps,” Jurkovec said after his pro day showing. “That’s why I’d love to get into a camp and compete.”

He hasn’t been anything but a quarterback since he was a youth player. He rose quickly through the youth ranks, developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the WPIAL and a high four-star recruit, but his eventual college career was marred by injuries and inconsistency. The flashes of brilliance were few and far between toward the end.

But even as Christian Veilleux usurped Jurkovec as the starting quarterback at Pitt, Jurkovec remained a steadfast supporter in the room. He continued to look for a way to help the Panthers, and it led to the position change.

“When it first happened, we thought it was a joke, but then it was like, ‘Okay, he’s really in here,’ so we brought him under our wing with everything that we were working on,” Pitt tight end Malcolm Epps said. “I would teach him if I saw him doing wrong. … I had to make sure he was okay.”

Despite being demoted, Jurkovec remained a dedicated teammate. He was a prominent figure in the offense, working with the quarterbacks and the tight ends, and despite the difficult situation, he never once sulked.

Jurkovec embraced his new position. He worked with the tight ends last season, not seeing the field much, but he still served as a player who could get his teammates going. Jurkovec, while he might not have seen the field much, never lacked energy. It’s a new position, but it’s still the same dream. And he’s enjoyed it so far.

“It’s been fun, a whole different position, whole different way of training, but it’s been fun,” Jurkovec said. “I’m making a lot of progress with it, too.”

Jurkovec turned to former Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz and former Notre Dame tight end Tommy Tremble for some help, and it may just help that he’s a new face. He hasn’t truly played as a tight end at the college level, spending five-and-a-half seasons as a quarterback, so it’s a different journey. It helps that he’s a former quarterback who liked throwing to tight ends, sure, so he would like to recreate that. But it goes much deeper than just being a quarterback-turned-tight end.

“There’s a steep learning curve, there’s a lot to learn, but I think I’m making a lot of progress, and I’d just be willing to put in the work and see how it goes,” Jurkovec said.

Jurkovec completed 57-of-112 pass attempts (50.9%) for 818 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions through four-and-a-half games last season, and that didn’t tell the full story. It didn’t work.

He threw for 6,224 passing yards with 43 touchdowns and 20 interceptions — adding 627 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground — in his college career. He put together his best season under Frank Cignetti Jr. at Boston College in 2020, but it went downhill in the following seasons.

He never truly played tight end at the college level, not with just a few games left in his collegiate career, but he measured and tested pretty well Wednesday. He’s big and physical, but he tested well in the process — 33-inch vertical, 9-foot-4 broad jump and a 4.86 4-yard dash. He was happy with his jumping.

Jurkovec is the second former Panthers player to receive a Steelers rookie camp invitation, following cornerback Marquis Williams. The Steelers have not invited any other tight ends to rookie minicamp, and did not draft any or sign any as undrafted free agents following the 2024 NFL Draft. The three-day rookie camp starts on Friday at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, which the Steelers share with the Panthers.

RELATED: 2024 Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp Invite Tracker

Alan Saunders contributed. The story first appeared at our partner site, Pittsburgh Sports Now.