Pettis Happy to Provide Many Returns

Washington junior receiver Dante Pettis tied a Washington all-time mark for punt return touchdowns with his fourth Saturday in UW's win over Rutgers, and he knows with his ability he has a chance to break that record this fall. Could it happen this Saturday when the Huskies host Idaho?

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How excited were you when Nick Harris committed to UW? “Pretty excited. There’s a few guys that came in when I was a junior, so he was a freshman over at JSerra, and I was pretty close with them. We would hang out sometimes. We would stay in contact, him and Luke (Wattenberg), because Luke went there too. Me and Luke played on the same basketball team. I was really excited when they both committed. I was like ‘let’s go.’ I was stoked.”

Are you surprised to see Nick Harris playing as a true freshman on the offensive line? “A little bit, just because when I was at JSerra, he was hurt and he wasn’t playing offensive line; he was playing defensive line. I had heard how good he was but I never saw it myself. Once he came up here and started doing all that stuff I was like ‘okay, so this is what they were talking about.’”

What was it like playing for your high school coach who has a reputation for being tough? “Definitely. He’s every bit of - anything that anyone can say about him, that’s definitely coach Hartigan. It’s good. It gets us prepared for the next level. We were playing in one of the toughest leagues in the nation, so there was really no way to go around it, to be soft about that.”

Did you feel more prepared having come from there? “Yeah, no doubt. The workouts and everything were pretty much to scale as they are here. I feel like mentally we were pretty well prepared.”

What was the hardest part of not just being able to beat players with athleticism anymore? “I think it was really just learning coverages and stuff like that. Learning the defense, seeing where they would be, and reacting to them, instead of just ‘okay, I’m a better athlete than you. I’m going to run around you and go here.’ You really have to trust your technique and do a lot more film study than in high school.”

Is returning punts a place where you can channel your athleticism? “Yeah. I think that is. It really does have a lot to do with the blockers, though and the scheme we’re running that week. Obviously there are times you can have a great punt returner, but if the guys upfront aren’t getting it done, he’s not going to get very far. There’s times where you could have an okay punt returner, but if the guys upfront are doing a fantastic job holding there guys up then you can have a great return set up. I think it’s a little bit of both on that one.”

On decision making as a punt returner “I think it’s a little bit of seeing if you have to call fair catch or getting a good read on the ball so you can get a good jump on it. Or seeing if you can actually get to that ball and catch it or if you’re running up you’re going to catch it out of control. You might drop it. It’s a little bit of that.”

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