Cal Adomitis talks about his time at Pitt


Photo by Photo Submitted by Cal Adomitis

Cal Adomitis runs the 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Draft Combine

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

Five years ago, NFL prospect Cal Adomitis made the decision to play for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. In 2021, the Panthers took home the Atlantic Coastal Conference Championship (ACC) for the first time in program history. This was a moment that Adomitis will never forget.

“It was just awesome. The confetti and just standing on the stage hoisting the trophy, you could just tell how passionate the Panther faithful were,” said Adomitis. “We’re down there and just singing Sweet Caroline, and it was crazy. It’s definitely the stuff you dream about as a little kid.”

Adomitis reached the pinnacle with his team, winning the ACC Championship and Long Snapper of the year in 2021. Nevertheless, the road to winning the ACC title was quite the journey.

The five-year starter for the Panthers didn’t always intend to play long snapper, but the position allowed him to see the field more often for Central Catholic, which is where he played high school football.

“I originally started long snapping in my junior year in high school. We were going into the season as one of the top 20 teams in the country,” said Adomitis. “We were a stack team, and I was basically just fighting for time as a tight end, but still not to the point that would constitute getting scholarship offers yet. My dad was the one who just said that long snapping is an additional way to get on the field.”

He began to take the position seriously, and he achieved a lot for the Vikings. He attributes a lot of his success to his brother Graham Adomitis, who carved out a solid tenure at Princeton University. He said he believes that his brother had a tremendous impact on him and his teammates since he was a captain and an older member of the team.

“Graham was always going to look out for us and take us under their wings and just help us develop. They are never going to just beat up on us for no reason,” Adomitis said. “They’re going to compete with us and make us better. And hopefully we would make them better, so it was just great and made that whole season so much fun.”

His brother made practice easier for him and for the rest of the team. He was also the captain for Princeton and was an all-Ivy League tight end. He currently is an NFL free agent and was on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad in the early stages of the 2021 NFL season.

In Cal’s senior season, which was a few years after his brother’s graduation, he helped lead the team to a 14-2 record, along with a WPIAL Championship. He lettered as a long snapper and tight end for the team, which led him to choosing to attend the University of Pittsburgh. He received offers from FCS schools and Division II schools, but he was motivated to play at the higher level.

“I was also pursuing long snapping and had gotten a preferred walk-on from Pitt and then had a little injury my senior year to my knee that sidelined me in terms of tight end or fullback,” Adomitis said. “Things kind of fell through with that, but Pitt stuck with me and deep down, I knew I was motivated as well to try to play the power five level.”

Despite deciding to attend Pittsburgh, he originally was a Penn State fan because of his father who is a Penn State alum. However, when he saw the team didn’t give up on him and that the team had trust in him, he realized he was in the right place.

In his freshman season, he became the starting long snapper, and he credits this to his work ethic.

“Anytime the coach would look over, I’d be doing something or snapping balls or doing a drill or even trying to hop into linebacker tackling circuit,” Adomitis said. “That definitely earned the respect of my coaches, my teammates and enabled them to trust me to play at a young age as the long snapper instead of having to sit a couple years and learn before getting on the field.”

Adomitis had early success during his freshman season, and he believes that his time and experience at Central Catholic helped prepare him for the next level. During his time with the Vikings, he played many future Division-1 players, including Phil Jurkovec who is currently the starting quarterback at Boston College.

He also attributes much of his early success to Ryan Winslow, who is now a punter for the Chicago Bears, and coach Pat Narduzzi. At first, he didn’t realize the magnitude and the prestige of Power Five football, but their guidance helped him adjust to the next level.

The team struggled during the 2017 season and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Nevertheless, the team had nothing to lose when they took on the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes.

“It just felt different that day. That was definitely the best ball that that team played that whole season and we just seemed like there was a loose confidence going into that game,” Adomitis said. “There’s nothing to lose and sometimes when we have nothing to lose, that’s when you’re most dangerous, and we definitely were that day.”

The win against Miami came ten years after a similar 5-7 season where they defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers, which also spoiled their National Championship hopes. After the 2017 season, Coach Narduzzi saw potential in Adomitis, and due to his effort, Adomitis received a scholarship before the start of the season.

In the 2018 season, Panthers kicker Alex Kessman broke a Heinz Field record for the longest field goal kicked at the venue, drilling not one, but two 55 plus yard field goals. He remembers in particular when he was standing next to the podium during an interview with Kessman after making history with him.

During that same sophomore season, the team won four straight games and made the ACC Conference Championship. The team lost to the Tigers 42-10, but this was a learning experience for him and the team as they got the experience on the big stage.

In his junior season, the team found even more success early on when the undefeated UCF Knights came to Heinz Field. The Panthers snapped their historic 35 regular season game win streak and it ended up being yet another memorable victory.

“It seemed like everyone was just loose and having fun and it didn’t matter how many times they scored, we were just gonna bounce back and keep playing and it came down to the wire and by the end of the game we still had the juice and that’s what propelled us to win that one,” he said.

In that same season, the team won the Quick Lane Bowl against Eastern Michigan and Adomitis thinks that ending the season strong can carry over into the next season.

During his senior season, the team faced many struggles due to the pandemic. However, the season taught the team valuable lessons and brought the team closer together.

In 2021, Adomitis came back for one more year with the Panthers. Before the season, Adomitis became a team captain, and this was a very memorable moment for him.

“Obviously, winning a championship was just an awesome, unbelievable feeling, and I’d say second to that is being named team captain, just because it was something that definitely validated a lot of hard work,” said Adomitis. “It was really cool for me because I definitely gave my all over the past five years and felt that I was trying to do everything I could to help my teammates when I could and be a good example and a leader on the team.”

Adomitis went from walk-on to team captain in under five years. This motivated him even more, and his hard work paid off during that season. Adomitis went on to win long snapper of the year in 2021.

The team found success throughout the year, scoring 77 points against New Hampshire, which was the most points scored for the Panthers since 1926, and they also got vengeance against the Clemson Tigers, winning 27-17. This game was a memorable game as they played in a packed house with over 60,000 fans. He remembers the fireworks and the roars from the crowd, but most of all, he realized that this team can compete against anyone in the ACC.

“I remember the feeling like when they played Sweet Caroline at the start of the fourth quarter, and even though it was a pretty tight game, for the most part there was no anxiety,” said Adomitis. “We were all just singing along like we’re gonna win this, and it was just a good confidence, not like arrogant or anything but just confidence that we knew we were going to win the game.”

Coach Narduzzi gave the team sharpies after the game saying that it was a signature win. The team ended up winning 10 regular season games, their first time accomplishing this feat since 1981. Their 10 wins led to another Coastal division title and the team took on Wake Forest in the ACC Championship. Adomitis said he was so proud of the team and recalled the waning moments of the game after the AJ Woods interception.

“I remember just grabbing Kirk and being like, ‘we need to get ready for the field goal. We got to stay locked in, there’s a lot of football left to play,’”Adomitis said. “Obviously, everyone was fired up, but that was just another difference with that game in this team than in prior years where we’re like, ‘let’s not take the foot off the pedal and don’t even give them a chance to breathe. Let’s just finish this and keep running away with it.’”

The Panthers went on to win the ACC Championship, and the hard work paid off. He dreamt of moments like winning a prestigious conference title and was glad to celebrate with the team he loves.

“We were just like, ‘we just won the ACC championship. How many years have we broken it down every day on becoming ACC champs and just trying to manifest that energy,” said Adomitis. “We won the ACC, we won 11 games, Pitt football is on the right trajectory, and it was just an unreal day.”

Adomitis said he enjoys winning football games and championships, but his “Cal’s Kids” program was something that he always wanted to do and finally got the chance to do it. Early on in his football tenure, Pitt players Owen Drexel and Carter Warren wanted Adomitis to cut his long hair, but he only would if they were to give him $2,000. As time went by, the team wanted him to cut his hair, and so Adomitis finally told the players that if he was going to cut his hair, he wanted it to be meaningful.

“My oldest brother used to be involved with the Children’s Hospital telethon back in the day and just the initial idea came to me after picture day. We talked with Celeste while she was our head of community service and we were like ‘hey, do you think we would do a fundraiser and set a goal and if we reach the goal, we will have kids from Children’s Hospital, shave my head and we’ll give all the money to Children’s Hospital’ and she loved it told,” said Adomitis.

The news got to Chris LaSala, who is the AD of operations and EJ Borghetti who is in charge of media. They both loved the idea and the fundraiser kicked off, and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) works team pledged a $10,000  donation to a charity of his choosing.

“There was a lot of excitement around our team just to channel some of that excitement into, another good way to give back to the community… every person was just as excited as the last and before you know it, college gameday had said something about it,” he said.

With more exposure, the fundraiser snowballed into more and more donations. Adomitis remembers receiving texts of how much money he was raising, and he was happy that a simple idea turned into an awesome and beneficial fundraiser to support children with cancer.

Adomitis said that his faith was a big reason he began the fundraiser. He wanted to remain humble and wanted to make sure that he kept his heart in the right place. He remained grounded and humble throughout the fundraiser and reached his goal of $94,000 and ended up raising over $120,000. He now plans to continue to do fundraisers at the next level as well.

After the fundraiser and the ACC Championship win, Adomitis was invited to the Reese’s senior bowl and the NFL draft combine. The senior bowl gave him the opportunity to coach around the league and prepared him for the combine. He was the only long snapper invited to the combine. This was something he was honored by, and he made sure he did all of the combine testing.

“I snapped like 60 punts and 75 field goals on Sunday between six or seven punters and five field goal kickers, so it’s like a ton of snaps, but it was just great,” said Adomitis. “It gave me an opportunity to just like go to work and like, show these coaches no matter what team takes me, you’re going to get my full effort.”Adomits also had the opportunity to talk with Don Muhlbach who was the long snapper for the Detroit Lions for 17 seasons. This talk helped Adomitis learn what he could expect from the next level, and it really helped him prepare mentally for the NFL.

“I got a chance to sit with him for 45 minutes and just pick his brain. And he’s just like ‘as a long snapper in the NFL, you just have to be perfect. Whether it’s warm ups, like practice reps to game reps, every snap has to be perfect. And the moment you mess up or start to get lackadaisical, you’re going to have five coaches down your back.’”

Adomitis had his pro day on Monday and got to snap and play with punter Kirk Christodolou one last time. He looks forward to an exciting career at the next level and living out his childhood dream.