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October 24, 2010

Pettis is 'Mr. Versatility' for No. 2 Boise State

BOISE, Idaho (AP) In just one minute on Labor Day night, Boise State's Austin Pettis defined versatility.

Already combining with Titus Young to create one of the more dynamic receiving duos in the country, Pettis was the star of the No. 2 Broncos' season-opening win over Virginia Tech.

In that short period of time, Pettis blocked a punt, caught a touchdown pass and held for an extra point. Oh, and if you need more proof of his ability, a few weeks later he threw a 6-yard touchdown pass against Oregon State.

"He is our most versatile player. He might be our best player," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "I can't say enough good things about that guy. He's such a great competitor, a clutch performer, and he has been for a long, long time."

Pettis and the No. 2 Broncos return after a weekend off with a rare Tuesday night game against Louisiana Tech. It begins a month in which the Broncos play just once on a Saturday - Nov. 6 against Hawaii. That's followed by three straight Friday nights: Nov. 12 at Idaho, the following week against Fresno State and Nov. 26 at Nevada.

The BCS standings, which will ultimately determine whether Boise State reaches the national title game, were to be released later Sunday night.

Pettis is just one component to the Broncos' multifaceted offense. Most of the attention goes to quarterback ]db]Kellen Moore[/db], the orchestrator, and Young, the speedy deep threat who leads Boise State with 33 catches for 581 yards.

But when a big catch is needed, Moore usually looks to Pettis, his 6-foot-3 senior. It was that way in the opener, when Pettis flashed open on a quick post route and caught a 13-yard pass from Moore for the winning points in the Broncos' 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.

Two years ago, when Boise State clinched the WAC title with a 41-34 win at Nevada, Pettis had nine catches for 126 yards and two scores. By the time his career concludes, Pettis could hold every major receiving record at Boise State, and perhaps some WAC marks as well.

The fact that Pettis has gone three straight games this season without a TD is newsworthy.

"It's basically playing basketball out there - just make sure he's inside the guy and get it to him," Moore said. "All our wideouts, you get repetitions, Austin is one of those guys you rep it a few times, you get a good understanding and you get comfortable with it. It's just pretty easy sometimes."

Boise State is lucky he's not dominating on a baseball diamond instead.

Pettis is the nephew of former major league outfielder and current Texas Rangers first base coach Gary Pettis, and the grandson of one-time California Angels manager Del Rice. Growing up, from about the age of five, Pettis spent most of his time on the baseball field.

It wasn't until he got to high school that Pettis gave up the fielding glove and put on receiving gloves.

"I got tired of it. I don't know why I quit really. Mom was distraught over it," Pettis said. "I had played it since I could remember, and our whole family, both sides, was all about baseball, so that's pretty much what we did all the time. My cousins played baseball too, we all did. I got into high school and tried out football and decided to go with football."

Good choice.

His 25 catches for 387 yards and four touchdowns seem pedestrian for an offense averaging nearly 525 yards and 48 points per game. But consider that Pettis and the rest of the Broncos starters have barely played in the second half in any of the past three games - plus Pettis getting benched for a somersaulting TD against Wyoming - and the numbers come into perspective.

"He's just so smart. I sit in the wide receiver meetings, and we've got some sharp guys in there ... and to me Austin Pettis is just light years ahead, he gets the whole thing," Petersen said. "You combine all the other things, his athleticism and his competitiveness. He's just a really, really good player."

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Associated Press Writer Todd Dvorak contributed to this report.





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