Jake Pettit receives scholarship to Idaho State University
Ever since dominating their opposition during the Wolverines’ historic run of four consecutive state championships, the Pettit twins had the looks of Division I talents.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the brothers’ football glory days are still very much alive.
Jake Pettit signed his National Letter of Intent last Wednesday to play at Idaho State University, which lured him aboard with a full-ride athletic scholarship. He joins his brother Zak — who received a scholarship out of high school to UC Davis — in the Division I ranks.
“We’re very proud of both Pettits,” said Truckee football coach Josh Ivens. “I thought Jake would end up at Davis, too. He had a huge impact for us. I’m not surprised that he finally got what he deserved, which is a scholarship at a fine college. I was a little surprised that he didn’t out of high school.”
Like Zak, Jake was a likely candidate to earn a scholarship at a Division I program before suffering a knee injury that kept him off the field the first half of his senior season, in 2012. A versatile threat on both sides of the ball, he returned in time to help lead the Wolverines to their fourth straight state title.
He then followed in the footsteps of many Truckee players before him at Santa Barbara City College, where he starred the past two seasons at linebacker.
“That (the injury) might have kind of held me back a little bit from getting a college scholarship. But looking back at it now, I’m glad I took the route I did going to Santa Barbara,” Jake said Thursday from Santa Barbara. “It was a good path and I’ve had a good experience.”
Jake Pettit, at 6 foot 4 and 220 pounds, was third in tackles with 56 in eight games for Santa Barbara this past season. He averaged seven tackles a game, which ranked No. 1 on the Vaqueros squad.
“Jake is a two-year guy who came from a winning program,” said Santa Barbara City College head coach Craig Moropoulos, who also coached a slew of talented Truckee grads before Pettit, including Randon Nunez, Morgan Nevin, Mitch Nelson, Colin Christian, Jackson Weed, Dillon Sheedy and Braden Waters. Truckee grad Dennis Zirbel also played at Santa Barbara in the 1970s.
“He is a winner and he brought a lot of that demand and expectation and competition to our team on a daily basis,” Moropoulos continued. “He’s an outstanding linebacker with a 3.72 GPA. That’s pretty darn good. He’s got a unique balance of academics and athletics and he’s absolutely a first-rate young man.”
Pettit enjoyed a successful high school career on the back stretch of Truckee’s four-peat, during which the Wolverines made national headlines with a 41-game winning streak. His junior season he rushed for 1,006 yards on 116 carries (8.67 average), with 15 rushing touchdowns and three receiving. While his knee injury limited his numbers his senior year, he still finished with nine touchdowns on offense and recorded 65 tackles from his linebacker position.
“He kind of had two different seasons for us,” Ivens said. “His junior year we used him more on offense, and as a senior we used him more on defense, which I think his personality fits more. Probably what set him apart, besides his size and athleticism, was his football smarts and ability to prepare himself for each game and implement our game plan.”
Pettit said he stayed in contact with several four-year colleges during his time at Santa Barbara, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — where his parents now reside — as well as a couple of Division II schools. One day over the recent Christmas break, he received a call from Roger Cooper, co-defensive coordinator at Idaho State.
“I don’t even know exactly how they found me,” Pettit said. “I don’t think my coaches at Santa Barbara were involved. I think they might have just come across my film somehow and I just got a call from them.”
Idaho State is a member of the Big Sky Conference and is located in Pocatello, which is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Salt Lake City in eastern Idaho. Pettit said he looks forward to the move.
“Just that whole mountain area, it reminds me more of home than Santa Barbara, which I like.”
Where are they now?
Aside from the Pettit twins, a handful of Truckee grads are still playing college football.
Erik Holmer is playing with Zak Pettit at UC Davis, while James DePew and Mitch Nelson are at Western Oregon University, Ben Bolton has returned to action at Linfield College in Oregon, Patrick Shaffer is playing at Thiel College in Pennsylvania, and Nate Golden is at the University of Nevada, Reno, after red-shirting last season.
Jackson Weed, who received a scholarship last year to play at Glenville State in West Virginia, moved back to Truckee after suffering an ankle injury and will join Ivens on the Truckee coaching staff next season.
Ivens said that standout linebacker Morgan Nevin, who starred at Santa Barbara City College before receiving a scholarship to Sacramento State, suffered a concussion and is currently not playing.
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