Alexandria High defensive coordinator Eric Cook will be the first to tell you that Michael Petty was out of his natural position this past season.
With one Trojan safety headed to ULL and the other to Northwestern, the senior tandem had the positions on lockdown for one final season.
With three down linemen, Cook was ready to get Petty on the field any way that he could, which eventually landed the junior prospect at outside linebacker.
“I played him on the strong side,” Cook said. “Being that [Petty] is a 200-pound kid that could run, we had to utilize him.”
On a Trojan defense that was asked to bring pressure with sometimes as many as seven guys, Petty’s ability to cover in open space was tested early and often.
“We don’t play a lot of base defense, and there is a lot of man-to-man that he took on,” Cook said. “He is a really good athlete, runs exceptionally well and changes direction well. We ran so many different pressures, our outside linebackers were the keys.”
Despite the position change, Petty said that his junior season on the gridiron was one of his most productive.
“I played in all 11 games, and I came up with around 80 tackles and over 10 sacks,” he said. “I also had one interception that I ran back for a touchdown.
“Even though I played a lot of outside linebacker, it was more like being at safety and just rolling down. It was a good fit for me.”
Petty played the 2009 season at 6-foot, 200-pounds, though both he and the AHS coaching staff sense that his senior season would see the safety prospect add weight.
“With the way he works out and the frame that he has, I think he could be around 210 or 215 when next season starts,” Cook said. “I don’t think it will limit his ability at all.”
With plans to attend one of LSU’s junior days in the coming months, Petty is anxious to hear more about the Tigers, one of many teams that are showing early interest.
“LSU has been sending me the most stuff, and the latest letter was about the coaching change that was just made,” Petty said. “Northwestern (Ill.) and Stanford have both been in contact, as well as Virginia Tech.
“I plan on getting out to some camps next summer to get a feel for what my recruitment will be like,” he added. “I signed up for some already, and I will definitely be at one of LSU’s two sessions.”
For Cook, Petty joins an impressive list of Trojans that have suited up in the defensive backfield for Alexandria.
“We will have four or five guys from the team that end up signing this season, and possibly even a third defensive back,” he said. “I had Nic Harris in high school, and he had a great college career and is now in the NFL.
“Michael is in that same category. He is not a 6-foot-2 kid, but he is over 200 pounds and he can run and get the job done.”