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Harlan: Central Catholic's Petrishen has lots of options

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Saturday, June 14, 2014, 10:40 p.m.

Central Catholic's Johnny Petrishen has a method for listing every school that has offered him a football scholarship.

When you have more than two dozen, that's not as simple as it sounds.

“It's easy if you go by conference,” said Petrishen, who starts with schools from the Ivy League and finishes with those from the ACC. “My family and I at the dinner table will have competitions to see who can rattle off the most. I can name them all.”

But it takes him longer than it used to. With FBS and FCS (formerly I-AA) schools combined, Petrishen holds 26 offers.

Pitt, Syracuse and Virginia are the latest to offer the 6-foot-2, 196-pound safety and receiver who will be a senior in the fall.

No WPIAL recruit has risen faster in the past month than Petrishen.

“It seems that more schools and bigger schools come into the picture every day,” Petrishen said Friday while riding home from Virginia with his parents, John and Jami, and sister Jordan. “I don't want to sound cocky, but it doesn't seem like it's going to slow down any time soon. I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that because I want it to stay that way.”

Petrishen earned his Pitt offer last weekend at the school's prospect camp. He'd heard very little from Pitt's coaches, but his on-field workout drew their attention. He excelled in one-on-one drills and ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.

“They like the way I competed,” Petrishen said. “They could tell that I worked my butt off this offseason. They said they could see a transformation in my body.”

Petrishen added 15 pounds since last fall, when he mostly played safety and returned kicks for the WPIAL Class AAAA champion and PIAA runner-up. He'll add wide receiver and some snaps at wildcat quarterback this year.

“The physical attributes are there as well as all the intangibles,” said Central Catholic coach Terry Totten, who has four players with Division I offers. “These kids catch fire when it's time to catch fire. They aren't jump-out-at-you early recruits. But they are guys who can play at that level.”

Petrishen's recruitment started slowly. In March, Penn was the first to pursue Petrishen, a Lower Burrell native with a 4.0 GPA. He quickly raked in offers from other FCS teams, with four Ivy League schools among them.

“When all the I-AAs were offering me, I was very excited about them. I still am,” Petrishen said. “I haven't eliminated any school at this point.”

But his list keeps growing in size and strength. Once he visits Illinois and Wake Forest, he anticipates offers from them, too.

“For a while there, I didn't think I was going to get any BCS offers,” Petrishen said. “I thought I'd have to have a really good senior campaign to get some. Maybe I underestimated myself a little bit.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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