Florida State redshirt sophomore Trey Pettis, shown at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game, has decided to transfer to Florida Tech. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENITNEL / August 6, 2013)
The move to the NCAA Division II school will not only allow Pettis to step on the field immediately, but he will also be closer to home and his father Kevin Pettis, who is the first-year head coach at Sebastian River, about 30 minutes from Florida Tech.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed the departure during a news conference Tuesday afternoon that officially began the team's preseason camp.¿
“It was a decision I made myself and no one forced me out and no one wanted me to leave FSU,” Pettis said. “Actually Coach Fisher and them didn’t want me to leave. It was more of a health decision. I got some health issues and need to be closer to my family and being five hours away wasn’t making me happy any more. I needed to be closer to home.”
Pettis, a former DeLand High all-American, red-shirted his freshman season at FSU and played sparing as a redshirt freshman last season before suffering a concussion that put him out for the season. His physical condition is fine and he is clear to start the season.
His health issues that caused his desire to transfer are not football-related.
“ I personally don’t want to talk about my other health issues,” Pettis said, “but it’s better for me to be closer to home.”
It was a tough decision for the 6-foot-5, 350-pound reserve guard.
“FSU is a great, great school and I’m not even talking about the football program… it’s just a great school with a great atmosphere,” Pettis said. “I love Jimbo to death and, contrary to popular belief, I love Coach [Rick] Trickett, too. Coach Trickett doesn’t do what he does to make you hate him. He doesn’t yell at you to make you hate him. He wants to make you better.
“I’ll always be Jimbo’s first commit as a ’Nole. I’ll always be a Seminole and always be Florida State fan, but with my health issues being what they are I just couldn’t be there and be happy anymore.”
Florida Tech, under head coach Steve Englehart, will hit the field for its first full season and practice has already started. The Panthers will play their first game ever Sept. 7 at Palm Bay’s Pirate Field against another upstart program Stetson.
“I feel great, I really do,” Pettis said. “Honestly, I love FSU, I really do, and I love Florida Tech because it’s a program on the rise with brand new facilities and a great coaching staff and it looks like they’ve got a great team from what I’ve seen. They’ve got some good kids there.
“Florida Tech is the only place I could have stayed in Florida and not had to sit out a year. It’s the only D2 school in Florida and I want to be in Florida the rest of my life.”
He said he figures to be on the practice field within the week and then he has his work cut out for him.
“I think I can be [in the lineup], but I still have to go in there and work and learn the plays,” Pettis said. “These kids now have had time to learn the plays and so I’ll have to step up my game, watch extra film and do all that extra stuff.
“I think the coaches are excited about me coming, but I’m even more excited about being there. They don’t need me as much as I need them.”
Pettis, who committed to FSU as a junior, was a big part of a DeLand squad that finished runner-up in the Class 8A state championship game to Miramar in 2010.
He was an Under Armour All-American along with teammate De’Ante ‘Pop’ Saunders, who signed with Florida but has moved on to Tennessee State. Also on that DeLand team was Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.