After three coaching changes, then coming out and having the most productive year of his career. A productive year in a pro style offense, it only seems natural that Devin Street would have his name linked to the NFL Draft.
Street either led or tied for the team lead in receptions seven times this year, on his way to 66 catches for 892 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to garner second-team All-Big East honors.
Street said Tuesday that he has filed the paperwork to declare early, simply as a formality. He says he would like to come back, and for the time being, that's the stance he's taking.
"It's come up a couple times; sending in my grade and stuff like that," Street said. "We'll figure it out. I doubt I'm going to leave. I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish here. With this great coaching staff, I think I can learn a lot with them. I think it's a great opportunity for me to come back next year; get a little stronger and improve my game."
Interestingly, Street had a lot of urging from head coach Paul Chryst and director of football operations Chris LaSala. You would think the two most important figureheads in the program would hate to see a player like Street leave early. If they were to not encourage him, or not help him for his future, they'd be doing a big disservice to him. Their efforts are reflective of how they look to prepare players for whatever they decide to do beyond college.
"It was just to see," Street said. "It was prescribed by Coach LaSala and Coach Chryst; just to see where I am at. We'll sit down and talk, but mostly, I would stay."
Going further in to why Street would say, he listed a bunch of reasons. First of all, the coaching staff. Not only did the Pitt offense produce a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in school history, but Street and fellow receiver Mike Shanahan had the most productive years of their careers as well. Street offered some reason as to how that happened.
"I think just teaching, just teaching the simple things," Street said, referring to the coaching staff. "The simple things lead to the big things. You don't have to do too much, learning the offense. They're complete teachers. They teach the game, and I think they've done a great job just teaching that. Also, just keeping guys on task, doing the right things on and off the field."
Going further into whether Street would come back, or if he would not come back next year, you get the impression Street feels another year in the same system would allow him to blossom even more, he feels. In his four years with the program, he has had three different offensive coordinators and four different position coaches. Returning next year would give him two years with the same coordinator and position coach for the first and only time in his Pitt career.
"Of course there's always stuff I can improve on," Street said. "I think I stayed a little bit more consistent this year; catching the ball, learning what I have to do to step up as a leader. I think it was a great learning tool. My first year in the system, it was a great year, and I think I flourished in that system. I would definitely be excited to get back at it next year."
Then, there's a leadership role. Something he embraces. Through the early bowl preparations, Chryst has excused the seniors, giving them a significant break before big plans are made for the game strategy in Birmingham. There have been benefits such as giving younger players some additional practice reps, as well as a chance for others to get healed. Another thing it offers is someone like Street an early chance to prove himself as a leader. He calls it a natural progression,
"It's fun to be out there; being one of the older guys," Street said. "Guys come to me and ask me questions. Hopefully I can help and teach them and just see the excitement they have."
Further proof of Street's leadership capabilities, his enthusiasm in talking about younger players around him. When asked who's impressed him the most, he rattled off several names. It sounds like a player who desperately looks forward to one more year in the program. However, if he gets feedback that gives him a second-round grade for the NFL Draft, he may be faced with a difficult decision.
"There's a lot of guys that have played well," Street said. "Desmond Brown is a great player. He's been carrying the load out there (at running back). Coach Chryst has been putting it on his back, to go out there and play. Chris Wuestner is another great player; a young wide receiver. I think we have a great defense; Eric Williams and Todd Thomas. I think we have a great, solid team. Of course, Rushel Shell too."
While he has had several different coaches, Street will have a different quarterback throwing him the ball for the first time in his career. He offered some thoughts on how the younger quarterbacks are doing in bowl preparations.
"A lot of good things," Street said. "I think they're all very diverse. I think Trey (Anderson) and Chad (Voytik) are a little similar. They're very mobile. Tom Savage has one of the best arms I've ever seen. Once he learns the system, I think he can be great. I think it will be great competition back there."