Michael Pittman Jr. had his own personal issues to confront before he could ever consider reaching the NFL.
Pittman, a rookie receiver with the Colts, battled a childhood stutter. At the time, the idea of teaming up with running back Jonathan Taylor as the future for the Indianapolis Colts was only a pipe dream.
This is Pittman’s story, from battling a stutter to challenging NFL defenses on Sundays.
Michael Pittman Jr. starred at Southern Cal
The son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman Sr., the younger Pittman spent four years at Southern Cal.
Michael Pittman Jr. caught six passes for 82 yards as a true freshman in 2016 and saw heavy action on special teams, recording seven tackles and blocking a punt.
Pittman’s offensive snaps increased in 2017, when he turned 23 passes into 404 yards and two touchdowns. Pittman earned All-Pac 12 honors in 2018, a season where he caught 41 passes for 758 yards and six touchdowns.
Then came his breakout 2019 season, where Pittman’s 101 catches, 1,275 yards, and 11 touchdowns earned him second-team All-American honors.
Pittman overcame a childhood stutter
As Michael Pittman Jr. did more interviews, listeners noticed he spoke slowly.
That manner of speaking came out of caution. Pittman battled a childhood stutter that greatly affected his self-confidence.
Pittman struggled so much with speaking that he often used hand gestures so others could understand.
In a 2019 interview with the Orange County Register (Calif.), Pittman recalled being forced to attend speech therapy classes in the sixth grade.
“It was embarrassing. It would be like, ‘Dang, here I go.’ If somebody just gets up out of the room, that draws attention. As a young kid, that can be terrifying.”
Football saved Pittman, and that isn’t an exaggeration. As Pittman’s profile grew during the recruiting process, he used his various interviews and meetings as an opportunity to improve how he spoke.
“There’s still sometimes where I want to say something but I know if I open my mouth I’m going to start stuttering and stuff,” Pittman told the paper. “So there’s some times where I don’t say what I really want to say because I know it will take me a long time to say it.”
Michael Pittman Jr. could see increased action for the Colts
Although some mock drafts thought Michael Pittman could sneak into the first round of April’s NFL draft, he remained on the board into the second round.
The Indianapolis Colts, needing younger and explosive receivers, added Pittman with the 34th overall pick to become Philip Rivers‘ new target.
Pittman caught two passes for 10 yards in the Colts’ Week 1 upset loss to Jacksonville.
Pittman could be in line for more snaps in the Week 2 matchup with Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Receiver Zach Pascal recently missed practice with a nagging ankle injury.
Pittman’s father, Michael Sr., had 69 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in three career games against the Vikings. The elder Pittman also caught nine passes for 81 yards in those games.
Pittman Sr.’s teams won two of those three matchups with the Vikings. His son is undoubtedly hoping for a similar result in Week 2.