Name: Aaron Pettrey
Hometown: Raceland, Ky.
High School: Raceland-Worthington
Year: 5th-Year Senior
Last season: Was the Buckeyes’ primary kickoff man while also specializing as the long range field goal kicker
This season: Will assume both kickoff and field goal responsibilities after two seasons of split duty with Ryan Pretorius
by Andrew Schraedly, OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Aaron Pettrey is not unfamiliar with handling all the placekicking duties for Ohio State. The thing is, the last time he was the main man was three seasons ago, as a redshirt freshman. Now a senior, Pettrey will once again be the Buckeyes’ full-time kicker, covering both kickoffs and field goals.
“I loved doing both field goals and kickoffs my freshman year,” Pettrey said. “I liked just being out there all the time and I can’t wait to try it again this year.”
But after a hip flexor injury slowed him during the start of the 2007 fall camp, Pettrey lost control of the job to then-junior Ryan Pretorius, who seized the opportunity and won the kicking job outright for the 2007 season. The next two seasons were marked by a good-natured battle, one that saw each kicker pushed by the other to get better.
“I liked the competition,” Pettrey said. “I liked battling the old-man (Pretorius). We had a good time and I think it made us both better.”
So now with Pretorius gone, Pettrey will look to both himself and to the next generation of Buckeye kickers, most notably Devin Barclay and Ben Buchanan, to keep him from getting too comfortable at the top.
“Ben and Devin are going to keep pushing me and making sure I get better,” Pettrey said. “But when I went back and looked at tape of myself last year I saw that I was trying to kick it too hard sometimes, especially on kickoffs. This year I’m going to try and slow it down and be more solid behind the ball. I’m lucky enough to have those guys looking over my shoulder and making me better.”
Now, as his final season as a Buckeye approaches, Pettrey is looking to build on a 2008 performance that saw him turn 13 kickoffs into touchbacks and convert seven field goals on eight tries, including a 54-yard bomb against Youngstown State. With that kind of leg, Pettrey is not concerned about the distance, but getting it between the goalposts.
“I think the biggest thing I’m working on this spring is my accuracy,” Pettrey said. “I know that I can get the ball there, I just have to work on getting it there straight. I’ve only missed one so far this spring, so that’s an encouraging sign.”