Stull On Midseason Manning List As Top QB

Pitt fifth-year senior quarterback Bill Stull continues to surpass all expectations for the Panthers this season.

The most efficient passer in the Big East Conference, Bill Stull has been named to the midseason watch list for the Manning Award, annually presented to the nation's most outstanding quarterback.

The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates' bowl performances along with the regular season.

"I made some mistakes last year, and I would have loved to play better and be more successful, but I also believe strongly that I learned from those mistakes and am a better quarterback for it this season,'' Stull said. "I've come a long way since then, and that only comes with experience.

"I'm learning with every game, and we're playing very well as a team this year. And I'm having more fun, which comes with winning, but it's getting very exciting around here. ... The matchups are improving for us this season, so we have no choice but improve in order to be successful this season.''

Pittsburgh has been extremely successful with a 6-1 overall record and 3-0 start in Big East play, and Stull has been a major contributor. So, the Seton-LaSalle High School grad was added to the Manning Award list after an exceptional first half of the season.

Stull has completed 67 percent of his passes (114 of 171) for 1,409 yards with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His pass efficiency rating of 159.39 ranks seventh nationally. He additionally ranks 23rd in points responsible for (tied, 13.43 points per game).

"I didn't realize how many times Bill got hit in the Rutgers game until I watched the tape,'' Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He got hit way too many times. Rutgers did a great job. A lot of it was pressure, a lot of it wasn't.

"It was just guys coming off of blocks, but he handled it well. He made some great throws under pressure. He just kept coming back. He was beat up the next day. There's no question about that, but he's proven that he's a tough guy.''

This is the latest accolade for Pitt's 6-foot-3, 215-pound signal-caller, whose strong and steady play is gaining recognition nationwide for leading the Panthers into the national polls this week, ranking No. 19 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 20 by The Associated Press. Pitt is No. 20 in the initial Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings.

Ten finalists for the Manning Award will be determined by a national media panel, as well as each of the Mannings. That list will be released Monday, Nov. 30. The winner will be announced Thursday, Jan. 14 and honored at a February banquet in New Orleans.

Stull and the Panthers play host to South Florida (5-1, 1-1) in a Big East game Saturday at noon at Heinz Field. The game is an ESPN regional telecast and the Conference game of the week.

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