Pettes' Hard Work Finally Pays Off

Andrew Pettes will tell it to you straight - he didn't receive a lot of playing time his first few years at Arizona State and he wasn't happy about it. Yet, the senior tight end saw an opportunity to start fresh in 2008 and worked to lose a lot of weight in the offseason to claim ASU's starting tight end job.

"I feel like in the years before that I didn't get a fair opportunity to get on the field," said Pettes. "Once the new coaching staff came in, I knew that everyone was on an even playing field and that everyone had a clean slate. I just took it from there and took advantage of it."

The straightforward senior admitted that it was very hard for him to barely see any playing time when he felt that he had the ability to contribute more than he was asked to.

"I really did feel like I was capable enough to be on the field and I really don't think I got the fair opportunity to get on the field," recalled Pettes. "I'm not trying to bash the other coaches, but they were a little bias and I just didn't get on the field. Once we had the coaching change, I felt really good and knew it was going to work out for me."

The Phoenix Moon Valley graduate said it was a huge help to have his family and friends so close by for support through the trying times.

"That was the big reason I chose to come to Arizona State in the first place," explained Pettes, "It was either ASU or Oregon and when I realized that my family wouldn't see 70% of my games if I went to Oregon, it was a clear decision to come here and play."

Pettes only caught one ball last season and it came in the very first game of the season against San Jose State. Danny Sullivan found Pettes in the end zone for a five yard touchdown in that contest. But ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson saw the work Pettes put in and let him know he would have an expanded role for his senior season.

"After spring football the coaches told me what my role was going to be. The leader, the guy that was going to show the young guys how to play," said Pettes, "I've been working hard since fall, losing the weight and getting stronger in the weight room. For the rest of the season I have to keep that going and the young guys can see how to play during the season so they can be successful too."

Pettes knew right away that due to the lack of seniors on the team that he had to step up and become one of the leaders.

"…Hardly anyone left from that 2004 class at all, so I knew the senior class was going to be a lot smaller than last year," remarked Pettes. "But really what we try to do is make everyone comfortable to step up and be a leader, whether vocally or on the field."

The main reason Pettes feels more comfortable on the field is due to the weight he lost in the offseason. Last season he felt he was too heavy and couldn't move well enough to get consistent playing time. Pettes says it is a night and day difference this season.

"I feel 100% better in everything that I do," admitted Pettes. "With being heavy you think that you can stout up on the line, but when you didn't have the ability to move around you are not flexible and it doesn't help you at all. Losing the weight helps both things."

Pettes has impressed his head coach as well. Head coach Dennis Erickson says that Pettes has been one of the few bright spots on the struggling offense.

"He's had a good year," said Erickson, "Quietly he has had a good year receiving wise. He's been pretty consistent for us. If you're looking for a guy that has been consistent all year (on offense) it's been him and he's been good blocking too."

Pettes had by far his best game as a Sun Devil in last Saturday's loss to Oregon. He caught four passes for 40 yards, but it came in a losing effort.

"When we have games like that, the team is disappointed and you know we want to look forward to competing better as a team," said Pettes. "Individually I thought I did as much as I could to help the team be successful, it wasn't enough but if I can keep going like that we can have a chance to win the game."

Pettes stated that he had a conversation with Rudy Carpenter at Tuesday's practice. Carpenter told the big tight end that he is going to look for him more and Pettes said that he'll catch anything thrown his way.

"That is my goal for the season, to not have any drops this season and I haven't so far," said Pettes. "If the ball comes my way, I'm going to catch it and then I can start making some plays."

Pettes thinks that the key to improving on offense is just that, the Devils need to start making more plays.

"We have the right kind of plays in, we have the right play calling, it is just making plays," said Pettes. "When the ball is in the air and there is a guy on you, you have to grab it from him; you have to jump over him, whatever you have to do. If we do that, we are going to be successful."

Even with the struggles of the offense and the team in general, Pettes revealed that his short memory is what keeps his confidence high. After all, the senior has waited way too long to sulk and let his chance slip by.

"Right after the game you are going to feel disappointed and probably the day after when you are watching the film you are going to feel disappointed," explained Pettes, "Once you come into Tuesday's practice, you have to forget about it. The only thing you can remember from last week's game is what you need to improve on, other than that - forget it."

The next chance for Pettes and ASU is this weekend is at Reser Stadium against Oregon State. The Beavers run a more spread out defense and have very fast defensive ends that create more of a problem for tight ends.

"They are going to be pumped up to play," stated Pettes. "They are a little bit smaller, but what they lack in size they make up for in effort and speed."

"It will be a little bit of an adjustment for us tight ends, but it shouldn't be hard to do. We've been preparing for this and we have quick defensive ends (to practice against), so I'm ready."

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