Pettrey will join Ohio State's team this fall as a walk-on. Following the 2005 season, he has been promised a scholarship by the Buckeyes.
"I was going to grayshirt this year, but now I'm coming in as a walk-on for the first quarter," Pettrey told Bucknuts. "And then I'll be on scholarship beginning winter quarter."
Just a few months ago, things didn't look good for Pettrey. Josh Huston was applying for a sixth-year of eligibility (which was eventually granted), plus there were two other kickers on the roster: Jonathan Skeete and Ryan Pretorius.
A team doesn't usually carry four kickers, but Pettrey was told there was room for him at OSU if he was willing to go the grayshirt route. He agreed, and was preparing for a long-term competition with Skeete and Pretorius.
However, Skeete voted himself off the island when he decided to sell marijuana to undercover officers in May.
Skeete hasn't been officially kicked off the team yet – OSU has not said much about the situation – but common sense tells you he is probably done. At least at OSU.
But when the door closed on Skeete, one opened for Pettrey.
"Yeah, I think that kind of helped out," Pettrey said of the Skeete saga. "Well, not helped out, but got the ball rolling for me."
Through thick and thin, Pettrey stayed with OSU. He had options, but didn't want to play for another school. He wanted to be a Buckeye.
"Yeah, it's been real tough sitting out for a year and a half," he said. "I've played this game since I was 10 and it hasn't been easy not being part of a team. But I believe things happen for a reason. Everything seems to be working out for the best. And sitting out has actually helped me get ready for college. Playing for Ohio State is what I've always wanted to do."
Pettrey took classes at Ashland Community College for six months. He then transferred to Ohio Southern in Ironton (which uses a quarter system like OSU).
One thing about Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is that he likes kickers who are also athletes. Pettrey, who was his high school's starting quarterback for two years, more than fits the bill.
As a junior in 2002, Pettrey threw for 2,726 yards (71 percent completion percentage) and 32 touchdowns. As a senior, he threw for 2,469 yards (72.8 percent) and 22 touchdowns.
Oh yeah, he did a little kicking as well. He drilled eight of 12 field goal attempts as a senior, including a Kentucky state record 58-yarder. He also made a 53-yarder.
Yes, he has a big leg… and it's gotten even stronger.
"Going to the ground was different," Pettrey said of kicking without a tee. "But I got my distance back and now I've got even more."
The 6-2, 190-pound Pettrey has trained hard this offseason as he prepares for his OSU career.
"I run, lift and kick every day, or at least every other day," he said. "I kick about 15 field goals from 30-40 yards, then 15 from 40-50, then 15 from 50-60. After that, I do about 10-12 kickoffs."
Pettrey is excited to finally get a chance to compete at Ohio State. He hasn't even conceded the job to Huston this fall.
"I feel really good about coming up there," Pettrey said. "My dad and I were just talking about this and I feel like I have an outside chance at starting this year. Josh is a great kicker, but I am going to come in and give it my best. And then if I end up redshirting this year, hopefully I can start next year."
Pettrey was happy to see former OSU kicker Mike Nugent selected in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
"I knew he'd go early," Pettrey said. "He's a ridiculous kicker. I got a chance to kick with him a few times up there and he was one of the hardest workers on the team. It makes me feel good about my decision because I'm looking to get drafted one day and Ohio State has proven they develop good kickers."