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Pitt in the Pros

Johnny Petrishen Turning Heads With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers



Pitt linebacker Johnny Petrishen.

The start of the 2024 CFL season is just over a week away, and Johnny Petrishen is looking to make an impact this season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Petrishen — a 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker from Lower Burrell, Pa. — signed with the Blue Bombers earlier this month and throughout the preseason, he’s impressed his coaches and fellow teammates with his work ethic.

“Right from day one, he (Johnny Petrishen) seems to process what you’re asking him to do very, very quickly,” Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said Sunday.

“He stood out in some of the special teams stuff right away; he seems to have a good handle on not only what we’re asking him to do but the game of football and where he fits in. I think it seems really simple to him in that regard and he’s a big, strong guy that can play.”

Petrishen — a former WPIAL standout who starred on the Pitt ACC championship-winning squad — signed with the BC Lions last November, but as rookie camp approached earlier this month, the Lions cut him. And Winnipeg swooped in.

“I’m so grateful that Winnipeg picked me up,” Petrishen told last week. “To be honest, (the release from the Lions) wasn’t a gut-punch feeling. I’ve been cut before in the NFL and other leagues. I’ve been told ‘no’ many times. But when the Lions released me I kind of felt like something good was about to happen. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t down. I feel like in my career it’s taught me to handle the emotional roller coaster, so I knew something good was about to happen and when the Blue Bombers called I knew that’s exactly what it was.”

It’s been a long road for Petrishen. The Lower Burrell native originally committed to Penn State out of Central Catholic. It was a turbulent time, to say the least, with a season-ending injury in 2016 and a lot of special teams work during his time in State College.

Petrishen decided to come back to Pittsburgh in 2019, enrolling at Pitt and spending his first two seasons as a reserve linebacker and special teamer — having made the transition from safety to linebacker. He broke out in 2021 as a Star linebacker with 74 tackles (29 solo), 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown against Georgia Tech) and a pass breakup.

He went undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, spending some time with the Buffalo Bills in the preseason, but he didn’t latch on in the NFL initially. He’s competed at two Pitt Pro Days, impressing in both instances and worked in broadcast as he’s continued to train for a professional opportunity.

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Petrishen is an excellent athlete — boasting a 4.5 40-yard dash and nearly 40-inch vertical. And with his background as a safety and linebacker, he’s an intriguing piece as a weakside linebacker and special teamer.

The Blue Bombers’ next preseason game is scheduled for Friday against the Calgary Stampeders and the regular season kicks off on June 6 against the Montreal Alouettes at 8:30 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
25 days ago

never been the talent, just staying on the field

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