LSU extended an offer to the 2015 OL after he made a visit to the Tigers' campus Wednesday. Though his grandfather ultimately wound up at Tulane before embarking on a successful NFL playing and coaching career, Petitbon said it's an honor to share this connection with him.
"LSU really wanted my grandfather to play for them, but he went to Tulane," Petitbon said. "They were in the SEC at that time, so they were a big school back then. Though it's not exactly the same, it's like following in his footsteps. I really liked my LSU visit. It was great."
Though Petitbon hails from Washington D.C., his family has strong ties to Louisiana. Johnny Petitbon, his great uncle, was a star for Jesuit High School in New Orleans before going to Notre Dame, where he won a national championship in 1949. Both he and Richie's grandfather were inducted to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Petitbon's grandmother and aunt also went to LSU, so he has connections to the purple and gold. But despite those ties, this was Petitbon's first trip to Louisiana, and the visit lived up to all his expectations.
"The campus was awesome," Petitbon said. "Coach Miles, Coach Stud, Coach Cameron, they were all just really great. The stadium was unbelievable. They said it's ranked the No. 1 hardest place to play so that's awesome. The academic center was really nice, where they help all the players out. I really enjoyed myself."
The highlight of Petitbon's visit was getting to meet LSU coach Les Miles, who extended him the offer in an unusually casual manner.
"I've never met a coach like him before," Petitbon said. "He's very personable. He was just telling stories, acting like nothing was happening. And then he was like, ‘Oh by the way, we really want you and we want to offer you.' Then he just kept going on with his story. That was a pretty cool way to get the offer. Everyone said that's just the way he is. He's a really cool coach and I liked him a lot."
Petitbon's no stranger to receiving offers. As a rising junior, his list has already reached into double digits, including one he picked up from Alabama after camping there in July.
But Petitbon said getting one from LSU was still as special as the others.
"I had a smile from ear to ear," Petitbon said. "I was just so happy. I looked over to my dad and he was really happy too. I was just really excited."
The next thing he had to do was call his grandfather.
"Right after Coach Miles offered me, we called up my grandfather. He was very excited and happy. It really means a lot to come down to LSU and get offered."
Aside from getting to spend time with the coaches, Petitbon also got the full tour of LSU's campus and football facilities. Though LSU may not stack up to the state-of-the-art complexes Alabama and Oregon have just unveiled, Petitbon liked what he saw and admitted that won't be a deciding factor when he ultimately chooses a school.
"LSU might not have all the flashy stuff right now compared to Alabama, but games aren't one in the football office," Petitbon said. "You've got to win on the field. I'm not going to be wowed by the shiny things. LSU may not have the shiniest stuff compared to Alabama, but it's still really nice. It's definitely top notch."
What will factor heavily into Petitbon's decision will be the academics. That's why he was most impressed with LSU's Cox Communications Center for Student Athletes.
"I've been a lot of places, but the academic center was definitely the best thing that compared to everything else," Petitbon said. "It was just really nice. It seemed like it would be hard to fail in a place like that. They have all the people in place, helping you and making sure you're in class. That really stood out. Getting a good education is really important to LSU."
At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Petitbon should be one of the top offensive linemen in the 2015 class. LSU has made that position a priority thus far, extending well out of the typical footprint to offer him and Idaho prospect Tristen Hoge.
Petitbon said the staff likes him best as a center.
"But they said if I grow an inch or two, they'll want me to play tackle," he said. "They're just going to let the chips fall how they may…They really like my feet, how I stay low, my bend and my footwork. They said they like my lower body and how I'll grow into my upper body as I lift and get bigger."
This marked Petitbon's final visit of the summer. He plans to return to Baton Rouge for a game in the fall, and also hopes to see Alabama and Penn State again as well.
He plans to make a by the start of his senior season.
"Hopefully I'm going to know where I want to go by next summer. That way I can focus on my high school. It won't be all about me, it'll be about my team."
How do you think Petitbon's ties to Louisiana will help LSU?