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Pitt LB John Petrishen Talks Linebacking Corps, Seventh College Season



Courtesy of true redshirt and medical redshirt seasons, as well as the COVID-exempt 2020 season, Pitt linebacker John Petrishen is entering his seventh (and presumably, last) season of college football.

Petrishen played safety at Penn State from 2015 to 2018 before transferring to Pitt on the eve of the 2019 season.

Now he’s converted to outside linebacker, the position the Panthers originally recruited the coveted Central Catholic graduate at. 

“Coach [Rob] Harley, the linebackers coach at the time, said “John Petrishen, you’re going to be the next great star linebacker at Pitt,”” Petrishen said. “I hated to hear that when I was getting recruited. I wanted to play safety.”

Though he’s listed at linebacker, Petrishen’s experience at safety means he’ll be on the field in the team’s nickel package as a defensive back.

“I love that, really. It’s like a hybrid position for me,” Petrishen said. “I’m getting to cover and blitz, which are really my two favorite things.”

Though he once hated the thought of playing linebacker, Petrishen was quick to eat his words. 

“I wish I did it earlier, because I’m having a lot of fun,” Petrishen said. “I feel like it was meant to be, I love this position.”


With the Panthers returning all four starting linebackers from 2020, Petrishen is excited to see what they can do.

“Especially at linebacker, we’ve got a lot of guys who have played, with experience. We have young guys pushing older guys,” Petrishen said. “Iron sharpens iron, we say that all the time in our room. We’re all making each other better.”

Petrishen said that their fierce competition has forged a tightly-knit group. 

“I think we’re a lot closer as a whole,” Petrishen said. “I think the linebackers are my closest friends on the team.”

Finally healthy ahead of his collegiate swan song season, Petrishen is ready to make some noise.

“The future is bright for Pitt football, and I’m excited to say that,” Petrishen said.

Despite being 25, the oldest player in Pitt’s locker room, Petrishen hasn’t gotten tired of the college experience.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s my seventh year at all,” Petrishen said. “I’m still learning things every year.”


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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