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Petrus: the great walk-on triumph

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Petrus: the great walk-on triumph

After deciding to walk on with the Razorbacks instead of going to a Division-II school, Mitch Petrus showed he can play at the highest level of college football by becoming a starting offensive guard for the Razorbacks. He moved from fullback to guard his junior season in 2007 and started 12 games. He earned second-team All-SEC honors that season. In 2008, he was a pre-season All-SEC second team selection, but he redshirted. Now, he’s back for his final year of eligibility and starting at guard again.

During his high school years in Carlisle, Ark., Petrus garnered many accolades including AA Conference Lineman of the Year, all-conference selection and all-state selection. During his junior season, he set the state record for tackles with 39 as a linebacker. He led the state in tackles his senior season with 306, including 145 solo tackles. Not only was he a big performer on the football field he was also selected to the all-state team in basketball.

Upon arriving at the University of Arkansas in 2005, Petrus was a back-up tight end. That year he saw his first action at his new position, guard, in the fifth game of the season against Louisiana-Monroe where he played 12 snaps. His most extensive playing time of his freshman season was in the second to last game of the year against Mississippi State when he logged 32 snaps.

In 2006, Petrus switched positions again to fullback. He was mostly used as a blocking back to pave the way for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on their way to 1,000 yard seasons. Finally in 2007, he was moved to his current and permanent home at guard. Petrus was a key cog in the line that provided running lanes for McFadden and Jones in their brilliant careers.

Although he loves football, it isn’t Petrus’s only love. He is also an avid guitar player and is in a band called Sledgehammer that includes fullback John Durmon, wide receiver Lucas Miller, safety Matt Harris and other local musicians. Petrus has been playing guitar since high school, but he wasn’t very serious about until the last year.

“I gave up video games because I was playing them way too much,” Petrus said. “So I decided to pick up my guitar and really learn how to play it.”

Petrus describes his band’s sound as a mix of classic-rock and metal.

“It’s southern rock basically,” Petrus said. “It’s a combination of Guns N’ Roses and Led Zeppelin with a metal tone to it.”

Petrus’s father, Phil, was a lead guitar player in a band when Petrus was a kid and that’s when he fell in love with the instrument.

“When I picked my guitar up that summer, things came pretty easy to me because I already knew basic chords and things. But I’m a big guy with big hands so I had to learn to be really delicate and precise. It took a lot of work, but I’m no Eric Clapton.”

Sledgehammer practiced almost every day during the summer, but since the season has started, they’ve only found time for about a once-a-week jam session.

Whether he’s pushing people around on the field or jamming out on his guitar Petrus tries to live his live the same way.

“I try to keep everything in perspective. I always have someone I can talk to and at the end of the day I make sure that I’m comfortable with myself. No regrets.”



Sports Category : Football