One of the most intriguing additions to this year’s Yale football team has to be quarterback Patrick Witt ’12. After appearing in five games for the Nebraska Cornhuskers last season — completing six of eight passes for 48 yards along with rushing for a touchdown — Witt decided to transfer this year and join the Bulldogs. Although it is still unclear whether it will be Witt or Brook Hart ’11 starting in the season opener against Georgetown on Sept. 19, for now Witt is just happy to be here.
Q Around campus there seems to be a buzz following your arrival. Do you feel that there is an added pressure for you to make an immediate impact because of the fact you are coming from a football powerhouse?
A I think there may be some sentiments like that on campus, but I don’t put any extra pressure on myself. I just go out there. I’m still new to this, still new to the offense, and am trying to learn it as fast as I can. There’s good competition going on right now, so I’m not under any stress or anything because I know that whether it’s me or whether it’s one of the other guys, they’re going to do a great job.
Q In the past month not only have you had to deal with learning a new offense but also you’ve had to familiarize yourself with a new campus and new teammates. What’s the transition been like so far from Nebraska to Yale?
A It’s been exciting. Anytime I go to a new place I look at it as a challenge and as an opportunity to experience new things and meet new people. I’ve definitely hit it off with the football team here. I feel like I’ve been playing with these guys for several years. The people on campus have been great, and the classes are obviously phenomenal. I’ve really enjoyed the first week or so of class. It’s definitely a new experience for me and one that I’m excited about. It’s great to be here at Yale finally. It’s the realization of a dream for me.
Q Do you have a favorite class?
A I do. I’m taking a class on Abraham Lincoln that deals with his writings, his policies and his philosophies. It’s called “Lincoln at 200.”
Q You split last weekend’s scrimmage against Union College with Hart. Since then, has Coach [Tom] Williams given you guys a better sense of who will be starting against Georgetown in two weeks?
A We had a meeting about that [on Wednesday] with our offensive coordinator Brian Stark. We’re doing our best to make it hard for our coaches to make a decision. [Hart] is playing extremely well, and I’m just trying to match him out there. They have not given us any more clarity in terms of who will be announced as the starter, so we are just going about our business as usual.
Q With there being stiff competition for the starting quarterback job, how do you feel you and the other quarterbacks have dealt with the pressure of having to prove yourselves?
A It’s great. Here at Yale, it’s a bit of a different dynamic because people are definitely students first, and athletes second. I think that that line gets blurred at some bigger football schools. The guys understand that [not being named the starter] is not the end of the world. They enjoy being part of this team, and we all know that we are working toward the common goal of winning an Ivy League championship. We understand that the coaches will make the best decision in terms of who gives us the best opportunity to win. I think we have great chemistry in the quarterback room. No matter who is stepping out on the field, it’s going to be important that those other guys watching from the sidelines are there to help him out and give him some guidance on what they see as well.
Q You were expected to compete for the Nebraska starting spot this year. What made you want to look at other schools?
A Academics, first and foremost. That’s not to say that the Nebraska education was inadequate. I took some great classes and had some very bright professors there, but I just knew for me personally there was something more. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I had second-hand experience with the Ivy League through my brother, who just graduated from Harvard this spring. I knew that he had taken off a bit from where we were both when we graduated high school. He and I had been very comparable in the classroom. I could tell that there was a difference between us in the way he was writing. I just knew that I had to bridge that gap, and the only way I could do that was to come to a place like Yale.
Q With the Ivy League being part of the Football Championship Subdivision as opposed to the Football Bowl Subdivision, how much of a deciding factor was it that you would not have to sit out a year before you could play at Yale?
A It definitely was not one of my primary concerns. The primary concern was the education — that is what ultimately led me to Yale. The fact that I could play right away was just an added bonus.
Q Your brother, Jeff, played quarterback for Harvard. Now that you’re playing for Yale, have you spoken with your parents about who they will be rooting for in The Game?
A I talk to my parents all the time, and we joke about that. My brother will be there, and I don’t think it’ll be right for him to root against his alma mater, but he definitely will support me too. My parents will be dressed in Yale blue. It’s kind of a house divided, but they’ll be cheering for Yale when The Game comes.