Florida Lineman Has Many Illini Connections

When you have been in college coaching for awhile, you develop relationships that can help support your efforts in later years. People you've coached or befriended can help steer top prospects your way. Upcoming Florida junior lineman Trey Pettis knows several college coaches through such relationships, including Illini coach Ron Zook and two of his assistants.

Deland, Florida, lineman Trey Pettis gets his love of football naturally. His father has coached him throughout his career. He knows the relationship has been beneficial for him.

"Playing for my dad's amazing. He expects more out of me, which is good. And it kind of gives me something to work more toward.

"It gives me more of a pressure on my shoulders than I think someone else would have. It's something I'm used to because my dad's helped coach all my teams. I've got to be perfect at all times and try to be more of a leader."

The main drawback is the fact college recruiters need to see him in person to verifiy his 6'-5", 280 pound size.

"When they recruit me, they need to see me to be sure I'm 6'-5" like on my highlight tape because my dad's only 5'-11". I'm the tallest one to ever be in my family."

Pettis has been around college coaches all his life since many have either played for his dad or recruited his players. It gives him a comfort level few enjoy during the recruiting process.

"I've known Coach (Dan) Disch and Coach Zook since they were at Florida. Everywhere I've been, Coach Disch has recruited my dad's area. My dad coached in Georgia, and Coach Disch coached there. And when Coach Zook was at Florida, he recruited a player of my dad's named Calvin Baker.

"And I've known Coach Gilbert (Joe, Illinois' offensive line coach) since I was a little kid because I went to one of his lineman camps when he was at UCF (University of Central Florida)."

Pettis and his dad came up from Florida on Friday before the Saturday lineman camp June 20, and they stayed until Monday. The visit was enjoyable.

"I liked the trip. The coaches up there were amazing. I had a good time. They all treated me with respect, which is always good. It was a good family atmosphere, which is what I was looking for. It was perfect. The players treated me well, like I was one of them already."

He did well at the camp and was one of the day's top performers. It was a hot day, but he had no problems with it despite wearing his helmet and shoulder pads.

"I loved it there in Illinois. The big difference was the heat. People up there were saying 'hydrate, hydrate.' I didn't have to hydrate. I didn't even work up a sweat because there was so much less humidity."

Of course, Pettis also has connections with other major college programs. He visited Texas Tech recently as well and came away impressed.

"I like Texas Tech. It's kind of the same thing. My dad's known Coach Moore (Joe, offensive line coach) for awhile. He's also got connections to other coaches there, guys who played for Coach (Mike) Leach at Valdosta State. It was a real friendly atmosphere there too. I got along with the players there like I did at Illinois. It was a good time."

With his excellent background, Pettis has advanced skills.

"I'm versatile in that I can play any line position. I've played center, and I can pull to my snap hand. I am good at pass protection the way we do it. I'm also strong as I can already bench 305-315."

With two high school seasons ahead of him, he is working to make additional improvements.

"I want to work more on pass blocking because we do pass blocking different at my school. We're a run-oriented team, so I have to get used to a different system. They all seem fairly easy, so it won't be hard for me. I'm a quick learner. Other than that, I want to work more on my speed and 40 time."

Illinois will undoubtedly be on his short list of schools as he begins to narrow his recruiting focus. Pettis has a clear idea what he wants in a university.

"I'm looking for a family atmosphere, a good environment in a college town. I'd like to go somewhere where I can play early, but I want it to be because I'm the best at my position."

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