August 17, 2010

Pettway focused on future

Like all high school football players in August, Pensacola (FL) Catholic defensive end and Alabama commitment D.J. Pettway is focused on getting ready for his upcoming season. But the 6-foot-3, 255-pound defender is equally excited about his future beyond his senior season of high school football and has already reached out to several other of the Crimson Tide's 2011 commits to begin discussing their future in Tuscaloosa.

"We just started practice and we're working our way through the early days and heading towards two-a-days," Pettway said. "We all feel really good about the team we have this year and I think we have a really good shot at winning state."

"I got to know Daryl Collins and Danny Woodson and I keep in touch with both of them. The three of us are all pretty excited about this class and we feel like looking at the guys who are already committed, this could be a group that does some special things when we get to Alabama. I plan on getting to know a lot more of the guys in the class this fall when I go to some of the games."

Pettway, rated by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 17 stronside defensive end, believes that both sides of the ball should present some opportunities for underclassmen to earn playing time in the 2011 season.

"If you look at the guys they'll be losing after this season and some of the guys that might leave early, there's definitely going to be opportunities for some of us young guys to come in and make an impact right away, even if it's just a few plays here and there. We've seen enough now to know that when you play at Alabama, you have to meet really high standards for the coaches to put you in the game and we're all going to be ready to learn and work hard so we can earn our way onto the field."

Last season, Pettway had the opportunity to see the Tide play in person twice and plans on catching even more games at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season.

"I went to the South Carolina and LSU games last year and that gave me a pretty good feel for what the atmosphere is like there. I'm really excited about getting to see some games this year since they've redone the stadium. I know I'm going to Penn State, Florida and Ole Miss and maybe some others too."

Pettway said his solid commitment to the Crimson Tide is due in large part to the relationship he's built with the Tide coaching staff.

"I keep in touch with the staff at Alabama, especially Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt. We talk about everything, not just football but about life in general too. They are really great guys who really are care about my life off the field too. I'm definitely looking forward to learning from them once I get to Tuscaloosa."

In the meantime, Pettway said he'll be spending his senior season trying to develop his leadership skills and helping his entire team improve rather than just focusing solely on his own personal improvement.

"I really want to be a better leader for my team this season. I want to help the younger guys around me get better. You can't just be focused on yourself in football. They aren't going to run the ball towards me on every play so I know that for us to win, I have to do everything I can to help my teammates get better too."

As a junior, Pettway accounted for 85 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. He is a member of the Rivals250.

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