New Season, New Position for Shaq Petteway - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

New Season, New Position for Shaq Petteway

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MORGANTOWN -

When Shaq Petteway reported back to Morgantown for the start of football camp last Wednesday, his excitement for the coming season was met with word that he would be playing a new position.

The sophomore "Star" linebacker, who worked the spur position as a freshman, was moving inside to the Sam.

"Coach [Keith] Patterson and Coach [Steve] Dunlap came to me talking about I'm basically too good of a player to be sitting behind Terence Garvin and they need me on the field," says Petteway. "They moved me to inside backer because we get a little bit more of a rotation at the inside backer than we do at the Star backer."

In truth, Petteway expected the move. After performing well in place of Garvin at times throughout his first season with WVU, he had begun to show that he could be counted on. With the development of other Star linebackers like Wes Tonkery and freshman Sean Walters, his athleticism became better served in a different role.

Petteway, a Steubenville, Ohio native, played outside linebacker in high school before making the move to safety with the Mountaineers. The transition now is one that will require far less of the blitzing he did back then and more of taking on some big blockers right at the point of attack.

With his new position in mind, strength coach Mike Joseph and his staff worked with Petteway to prepare his body for the toll it would take working on the inside. Saturday, when the team put on pads for the first time in camp, would have been his initial test of the physical differences he will face.

Going up against guards, centers and tackles more than the receivers and tight ends he became accustomed to will take some time, but Petteway says he is adjusting well.

"It was a lot more technical and a lot more focus on your stance," he says. "I woke up this morning and there was a little bit of back pain from squatting down so much yesterday."

His back may pain him now, but according to his new position coach, Keith Patterson, that low stance will go a long way in making him into the inside linebacker they need him to be.

"You move inside, it doesn't seem like that big of a transition, but everything happens so much quicker," says Patterson. "Offensive linemen are climbing on you, running backs are on you quick, so you've got to be able to trust your keys and control your feet on the snap of the football and just make sure you're disciplined in what you're doing."

Early on, Patterson believes the athleticism he sees from Petteway will work in his favor as far as getting on the field is concerned as West Virginia's defense prepares for some offenses in the Big 12 that like to spread the ball, and in turn the defense, every play.

Coach Dunlap, who worked with Petteway in year one at WVU, is confident that he will be successful on the inside.

"He is a nice combination of size and speed and he's a very explosive player," says Dunlap. "Everybody says, ‘What's explosive?' Well, he's just sudden. His movements are quick, he can accelerate fast, he's just a good athlete and he's really a fun kid to coach. He loves football."

For Petteway, the change is just another chance to prove himself. Whether he stays on the inside or ultimately moves back to Star when Garvin graduates, he is looking forward to getting on the field and making an impact.

The fact that his coaches are moving him to help facilitate just that is a sign of the faith they have in his abilities.

"That was something that I took to heart is they wanted to move me to get me on the field. I have to work to get on the field now," says Petteway. "They gave me the opportunity and I need to take advantage of it."

Petteway says he spent his entire freshman season trying to learn to just play football and stop thinking so much and as soon as he got to that point, he is back to thinking with a new position to master.

The next step is playing football again.

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