Pettaway feels comfortable with Penn State's "family-based" staff
There’s no shortage of top running back prospects in the Mid-Atlantic region for the Class of 2022, and Virginia native George Pettaway ranks right up there with the best of them.
Checking in at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Pettaway earned an offer from the Nittany Lions at the end of April and quickly developed a strong relationship with multiple members of the coaching staff. That’s held strong throughout the summer and now into the fall.
“Coach [Ja’Juan] Seider, Coach [Dann] Kabala and Coach [Eric] Thatcher are the main people I speak with. I feel like me and Coach Thatcher dial it up almost every day," Pettaway said. "He’s probably who I talk with the most, especially with Coach Seider being a little busier now. But I’m talking to Coach [James] Franklin a lot, too. We message each other on Twitter almost every day. Me and Coach Seider get on he phone a lot, too. We’ve done some Zoom meetings.”
Since the summer, Pettaway said he’s done around three or four Zoom calls with Penn State's staff. Each call has been a little different from the previous, giving him an overview of some of the opportunities Penn State has to offer.
“One of those calls was with the whole coaching staff,” Pettaway said. “I really got to know the wide receivers coach, offensive line coach, offensive coordinator. I did another call then just with Coach Seider. That lasted for like an hour and 30 minutes and was really just all about going over plays and learning their offense and how I would be used. I’m also supposed to do another one soon that’s all about academics with Destiny [Rodriguez].”
Although he hasn’t been able to visit with the staff in person, all of the Zoom and phone calls have given Pettaway a fair idea for what Franklin’s coaching staff and support staff are like. He said “family-based” was the best way to describe them.
“You can tell that they really want to have a good relationship with you because it’s not all about football,” Pettaway said. “You could say it’s real family-based. Just the way that they talk to each other stands out to me. You can tell that they’re very close. You can tell they’re very serious about their craft, too. Family-based is the word that comes to mind for me. They don’t sugarcoat anything.”
Despite the fact that Pettaway battled injuries in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, limiting his film, he has still earned offers from nearly two dozen Football Bowl Subdivision programs. Of those schools, he’s been able to visit Notre Dame, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
A few of those schools are among the group recruiting him the hardest today. That group also includes the Nittany Lions.
“Penn State is definitely up there. They’re definitely high up there. I don’t want to say where they rank yet, but they’re high up, for sure,” Pettaway said. “The relationship I have with all their coaches go way beyond just football. I know that if I go there, it would be a place I could call home. They’re just open and honest. I know if I went there, I would have to work for it. They’re honest about that stuff. They’ve always said that I have a chance to be great, but that I have to earn it.
“But also, another school that’s on me hard is Florida. Virginia and Virginia Tech are close to home and they want me to stay home. They’re both on me hard. Texas A&M is another school. Michigan is a school I have a good vibe with. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Coach [Jay] Harbaugh and them. UNC is another school. I have a good relationship with Mack Brown. I talk to Dre Bly a lot, too. There are a couple other schools, too.”
Virginia was one of the first states to cancel all high school athletics this fall. Football practice is currently scheduled to start in mid-February, with games starting up the first weekend in March. Pettaway said that he's hoping that the dead period will end in January, giving him a handful of weekends to visit some schools before he switches his focus to his junior season. If he’s able to do that, he could see himself narrowing his list of schools at the end of his season.
“There’s really no time limit for me dropping my top schools or anything like that,” Pettaway said. “It’ll just be whenever it feels right. One thing I’m starting to see now is that, with all these schools starting to play, you really get a feel for who’s prioritizing you. They’re a lot busier now, so calls have dropped off from some schools. So, those coaches that are really reaching out to you regularly now, when they're busy, are the ones you know really want you.
“But I’m hoping that, come January, we’ll be able to go down and see some schools. If I’m able to do that, I’d like to go see all of my top schools. If I can do that, I think there’s a good chance I could start narrowing it down right after my season, which will end in April this year. Bu I’m not too worried about committing by a certain time or anything like that. I just want to make the right decision.”
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