Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

November 17, 2010

Bengals Pick Pettrey

Nugent injury paves way for former Raceland kicker OSU kicker

CINCINNATI —  Shortly after Raceland product Aaron Pettrey graduated from Ohio State, his father, Steve, had a dream of his son kicking for his favorite NFL team.

A day after former OSU teammate Mike Nugent went down with a season-ending knee injury, Pettrey received a call from that team.

Now Pettrey can call the Cincinnati Bengals his employer.

"It's the team I've always wanted to play for," Pettrey said. "It's where my family wanted me to end up … where I wanted to end up."

The Bengals picked Pettrey over Shane Andrus and Hunter Lawrence, who also tried out with the team on a rainy Tuesday morning at Paul Brown Stadium.

Pettrey's first game in the NFL will be this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Cincinnati.

"It's an enormous opportunity," Pettrey said. "Just being able to come in here and go out there and have a chance. I'll be out there this Sunday."

Pettrey signed with Carolina as a free agent following the draft, but the Panthers cut him. Detroit then added him, but the Lions cut him after he missed his only field goal attempt during a preseason game against Pittsburgh.

Pettrey had been working a part-time job in Columbus while still working out and getting a few kicking lessons.

In one day, he went from working the Buckeye Room sales floor to kicking on NFL turf.

"It's a pretty big change," he said.

Steve talked to his son on Monday night and knew that Aaron might become a Bengal the next day.

"He sounded confident," Steve said. "I had a pretty good feeling about this one."

According to Steve, plenty of friends and family members will be at Paul Brown Stadium cheering on Pettrey in his NFL debut. Former Raceland coach Randy Vanderhoof is included in the group.

Pettrey was 29 of 39 overall in field goals as a Buckeye. He led the Big Ten with 72 points and 14 field goals at Ohio State last season as a senior, even though he missed four games with an injured medial collateral ligament.

Nugent, who Pettrey knows well, injured his ACL on Sunday, to ironically give Pettrey his current chance.

"Mike was having a really good year. It was unfortunate it had to end like that," Pettrey said. "Not much you can say but it's an unlucky injury."

Pettrey's new uniform is similar to one he's put on before.

"I dressed up as Boomer (Esiason, former Bengals quarterback) for Halloween a couple years," Pettrey said.

Right now, Pettrey's wardrobe is a bit thin.

"I've got two sweatshirts and two pairs of sweat pants and I can't really leave all week," he said. "I need to find some clothes."

Pettrey should have some time do so, but he may need some time to let himself adjust to the idea that he is a Bengal.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "I've been meeting people all day. I barely remember names right now."

Hopefully, for Pettrey, Bengals fans will someday remember his name as Raceland and Ohio State fans do.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

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