The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 19, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN: Panthers’ Stull quiets criticism with his play

MORGANTOWN — Remember when you were a really little kid, when everyone was picking on you and you didn’t know which way to turn?

Remember how you’d arch your back, glare at your tormentors, and spew forth the words that had worked for as long as there were kids and bullies?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

There were times during the past year or so when Billy Stull felt like just standing there at midfield on Heinz Field, turning to the crowd and screaming out the old sticks and stones line.

See, he knew about the broken bones up close and personal, and then he was learning about the names, some of them names that even a kid out of Youngstown, Ohio, which isn’t exactly hoity or toity in any respect, had never heard.

“I’ve been through some rough times, the lowest of lows,” the Pitt quarterback said as he took some time during an off week before beginning preparations for the Nov. 27 Backyard Brawl meeting with West Virginia University to chat with the Mountaineer media. “Now we’re starting to get some high points here.”

Two years ago, Stull was supposed to be the Pitt starting quarterback but a stick or a stone or some such thing broke one of his bones, that being his throwing thumb, and his chance to prove himself as a starter after doing nothing but mop-up duty behind Tyler Palko ended in the season-opening game.

That meant, of course, he was not the quarterback in the most crucial game in Pitt’s modern football history, the night they upset West Virginia and kept it out of the 2007 national championship game.

Stull came back last year and had a rough go getting into things, becoming the whipping boy of the fans, the object of their disaffection. It reached its greatest depths when he was yanked in a terribly embarrassing 3-0 defeat in the Sun Bowl.

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Bob Herzel
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