Determined Pettigrew A Bright Spot For Oklahoma State

Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 1:07 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Brandon Pettigrew might have been holding back when he assessed his blocking during Oklahoma State's season opener.

``I blocked decently,'' said Pettigrew, the Cowboys' starting tight end. ``I could have did a little bit better here and there, but I think I did well.''

Decently? Did well? How about this assessment from Pettigrew's coach on the 6’6 junior's 12 knockdowns against then-No. 13 Georgia?

``For a tight end, that's unbelievable,'' Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said.

Coupled with a career-best receiving day, Pettigrew's dozen times crumpling an opposing player to the ground earned him recognition as one of the few Cowboys players who excelled in a 35-14 loss at Georgia last Saturday.

It was the kind of performance Oklahoma State's coaches had been awaiting from Pettigrew since prior to last season.

``Not just anticipating, but expecting,'' offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said. ``He has the ability to do it, and when given the opportunity he's going to do those things.''

Gundy had predicted that Pettigrew could rack up a few dozen catches last year, and he ended up with 24 as more passes went in the direction of standout receivers Adarius Bowman and D'Juan Woods. But after Woods ended his senior season and tried to get a chance in the NFL, Bowman needed a new sidekick.

The first candidate to emerge was Pettigrew, who caught seven passes for 85 yards against the Bulldogs.

``There were a lot of situations where they were more concerned with Bowman, and that's why Brandon showed up,'' Fedora said.

Whether Pettigrew will continue to play such a crucial role in the offense will depend on how teams respond to his breakout performance. Bowman is sure to attract attention after leading the Cowboys with 1,181 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns last season, but Pettigrew may also become a focal point if senior Tommy Devereaux, sophomore Jeremy Broadway and freshman Dez Bryant don't develop into solid options at receiver.

At one point, Pettigrew didn't even think he'd get this far, though. His dreams seemed to slip away when he tore the ACL in his right knee during his junior year at Lee High School in Tyler, Texas.

``When it first happened, I wasn't sure if I wanted to come back and play football,'' Pettigrew said.

But after that immediate uncertainty, Pettigrew never found anything else to replace football in his life and he stuck with it.

``I was just determined to make myself better and just say that I would, and I guess I just didn't give up,'' Pettigrew said. ``And things worked out for me.''

Although he'd been mostly a blocker until that point and had been injured on top of that, Pettigrew started getting more recruiting letters toward the start of his senior season at high school. It turned out the recruiters were right, as Pettigrew emerged as a top prospect and an all-state selection.

``His determination and his will to put forth the effort and his commitment to the game is the reason why he plays so hard,'' Gundy said. ``And he's fun to be around because he likes to play football.''

Those characteristics _ which also surface when Pettigrew is taking on extra responsibilities on special teams _ have long been a part of his approach to the game.

``I always took it seriously because I love football, but when I was younger I never really thought of myself as that good at football,'' Pettigrew said. ``But I still liked it and I always still tried.''

While he once thought he'd never get to play major college football, Pettigrew now holds out hope that he'll someday get a chance at the NFL. And his latest performance was another step along the way.