Every Saturday afternoon, from September till November, thousands of people flock to Villanova Stadium to watch John Robertson, freshman of the year in 2012, winner of the Jerry Rice Award. Star Villanova quarterback. What people won’t see is the player on the sidelines, a walk-on last year as a freshman, and the scout team quarterback, Cody Pittman. A kid who is just looking for his shot.
To be a scout team quarterback, it takes hard work and dedication, as well as a commitment to understanding your opponent. It is the scout team quarterback’s job to simulate the opposing team’s tendencies and plays that the quarterback runs.
Being a part of the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association), Villanova does not face the stiffest quarterback competition on a weekly basis, but there are a fair share of athletic quarterbacks. This is part of the reason that Pittman was attracted to Villanova.
"Villanova’s offense is geared towards a dual-threat quarterback. I am a dual-threat quarterback, so it is beneficial to the team that I run the scout team. This gives me an advantage when simulating the other teams quarterback."
This is his second year running the scout team for Villanova. He knows that it is difficult to run the other team’s offense, but understanding their plays is vital for his team’s success. Pittman doesn’t receive a lot of guidance as the scout team quarterback. There is no coach talking to him; he has a card of the other team’s plays, and he has to run that play to the best of his ability.
"Being able to read the card and execute the play is the most important part of being on the scout team."
Scout team quarterbacks are not always off limits to the defense as well. They are able to be pummeled by the first team defense. They are all simulating a live play, so the defense has to practice its tackling.
It is evident that the defense has a lot of respect for Pittman. Watching their practice, you are able to discern that Pittman has the ability to play well at the quarterback position. Shane Harris, the junior defensive back, goes against Pittman every day in practice.
"The scout team is a big part of our preparation for the game, they help us get better. Cody is the perfect scout quarterback because he makes us get better. If we don't play as hard as we can he has the ability to pick us apart. So Cody being such a good passer forces us to get better in our techniques and with our skills."
Pittman has a lot of support from his teammates. They see that he has a lot of potential, and with his continued hard work he will excel and make this team even better than it is.
Harris even went on to say, "I think if he had a little more height Cody would be starting somewhere because he has probably the best arm on the team."
There is little to no glory in being the scout team quarterback. Yet, there is a tremendous amount of effort and focus that must be used to imitate the other team’s quarterback. This is far from an easy task. Even while having the responsibility of running the scout team, Pittman must still prepare as if he was going to start on Saturday afternoons.
A typical practice sees him start out as the scout quarterback. After running the scout team, he heads over to the first team offense, where he runs seven on seven drills with the first team offense. On some days he goes through film sessions with the coaches watching the other team’s defenses. His relaxed demeanor on the field comes from the environment that he grew up in.
Pittman is a So-Cal kid, coming from the Los Angeles area. A star quateback at his school on the west coast, his parents decided to send him to Villanova because of the football program. "I came to Villanova because of the offensive system. Their offense was tailored for a dual threat quarterback, which is what describes me," the Los Alamitos native said.
His ability to be a dual threat quarterback was evident during Villanova’s first home game of the year during parent’s weekend. Villanova was close to the goal line, and the coaches put Cody in as a wide receiver. Unbeknownst to the opponent, Stony Brook, Villanova had been practicing a trick play all week. Pittman runs behind John Robertson, the starting quarterback, and then receives the ball. He fakes the run, and then passes to the wide open receiver in the end-zone. The play works perfectly, and leads to the first touchdown in the game.
"Coach kept telling me it was going to be wide open. Got to wait for your opportunity and when it comes you have to be ready."
Harris understands that there is not a lot of glory on the scout team. "Yes, it seems tough because guys don't always give the best effort and sometimes lack the drive to want to give a good look." Pittman has to keep all of his players motivated, but at the same time, he is still hoping for his chance to prove himself.
"I hope to get some more trick plays in the future, I hope I get my shot."