I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972. I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion. The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree. I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used. I will add at least one a day, maybe two.
My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:
3. Place in program history.
4. Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers.
5. No current players.
44. Tyler Palko (2002-2006)- One of the more entertaining and excitable Panthers over the last four decades, the gung ho former WPIAL legend barely saw the field in his first two seasons, and actually redshirted in his second season, but then he came up big with three straight productive years.
As a redshirt sophomore, Palko finally took over as the starter for Walt Harris and responded with 3,067 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. The Panthers finished 8-4 that season and played in their only BCS bowl game, a Fiesta Bowl loss to Utah. As a junior, Harris moved on and Palko's productivity took a hit as he threw for 2,392 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. he also ran for a career high 6 touchdowns. But the Panthers disappointed and ended the season 5-6.
As a senior, Palko rallied and finished the season with 2,871 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. He also was much more accurate, completing 68% of his passes after throwing for 56% in his previous two seasons. Unfortunately for the lefty, Dave Wannstedt did not have the Panthers heading in the right direction yet and they finished the season with a 6-6 record.
For his career, Palko threw for 8,343 yards, 66 touchdowns, and just 25 interceptions. He also ran for 12 more scores. His passing yardage is third highest in program history and his touchdowns passes are tied for second.
Palko went undrafted and played sparingly in the UFL and CFL before getting four starts last season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ultimately Palko will be remembered for his passion, his 5 touchdown performance at Notre Dame, his cussing on live television after that Notre Dame performance, and his hurdle over West Virginia derelict Pacman Jones.