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Joseph Petrino Announces Commitment

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By Barry Every
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Richmond Hill kicker Joseph Petrino has announced his college decision.

A recent one-day camp circuit consisting of stops at Maryland, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and West Virginia resulted in one bigtime offer for Richmond Hill (Ga.) kicker Joseph Petrino. Terp Head Coach DJ Durkin and Specials Teams Coach Pete Lembo saw in person all they needed from Petrino in order to extend a scholarship offer.

“Maryland wasn’t really recruiting me that hard, they even admitted I was the lesser known of the kickers competing at the camp,” Petrino said. “But, I really surprised them.”

Battling for a chance at a full ride in front of a head coach at a Power Five school is enough pressure to make a polar bear melt in winter. But Petrino would not be deterred, winning the competition on Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in front of the Terp coaching staff.

With ice in his veins he nailed three consecutive 57-yard field goals and was the last man standing. Petrino also averaged 65-yards a kickoff with a hang-time of 4.4 seconds.

Soon after arriving home from his camp tour Petrino pulled the trigger, calling the Maryland coaching staff of his intentions on becoming a Terrapin.

“Yeah I came home and talked it over with my parents and just made the decision,” Petrino said. “I called Coach Lembo and then talked with Coach Durkin and told them I wanted to be a Maryland Terrapin.”

This past season Petrino nailed all 29 extra point attempts while making eight of 13 field goals, with a long of 44-yards. He also gave the Wildcat defense a serious defensive boost with a 72% touchback average on 44 kickoffs. His efforts did not go unnoticed earning First Team All-Region.

“Only a few times last year did an opponent start past the 25-yard line after a kickoff,” said Richmond Hill Head Coach Matt LeZotte. “Joseph is the most consistent player on our team; we know exactly what we are going to get from him on every play. Because of his prowess on special teams we can plan around him.”

Academically Petrino boasts a 3.5 core GPA with an amazing 29 on the ACT, that’s enough to make any college recruiter salivate over his services.

When not showing off his powerful leg on the gridiron he was a pivotal member of Richmond Hill’s soccer team. The Wildcats finished (16-3-2), winning the Region Championship while making it to the GHSA-AAAAAA Elite Eight. Petrino finished the season second in goals (10) and second in assists (17) earning First Team All-Region honors.

“I’m really excited for him, and his offer and commitment to Maryland is well deserving,” LeZotte said. “As good a player Petrino is, he is an even better person and student. He has ice in his veins and thrives in the action of being put on the spot.”

Last season the Wildcats finished the football season (6-4/1-3) and were knocked out of the first round of the GHSA playoffs by Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy. With the majority of their team coming back this season expectations run high at Richmond Hill. It will be no simple task earning a first round home playoff game with the likes of Brunswick (Ga.), Brunswick (Ga.) Glynn Academy and Springfield (Ga.) Effingham County in their region, each loaded with their share of athletes.

“Let’s put it this way, if we get within 63-yards we will be sending Joseph out to attempt a field goal,” LeZotte said. “The worst that is going to happen is a touchback and our opponent will start on the 20-yard line, that’s better than a punt. I don’t think anyone will start on the other side of their own 20-yard line this fall.”

Those are some impressive words, but what separates Petrino from other kickers in the Peach State and around the country?

“I work with One-On-One Kicking and Coach Dan Lundy, but more importantly we have our own kicking coach on staff at Richmond Hill in Coach Patrick Means,” Petrino said. “We do a lot of stretching and flexibility work and incorporate some weightlifting into my workouts. “The key is to stay calm and do what I normally do in every situation. From there you just can’t let the pressure get to you.”

Should the Terrapin faithful be concerned about Petrino possibly changing his mind down the road once other colleges here of his feat at College Park?

“I loved the Maryland coaching staff and everything about their program really appealed to me,” Petrino said. “I love the academics and hope to major in either business or engineering. I’m originally from up north, New Jersey, and I still have family up that way that will be coming to see me play.”

Maryland fans can next follow Petrino’s football exploits August, 25 when the Wildcats visit Brooklet (Ga.) Southeast Bulloch for the season opener. And the Maryland staff can check him out September, 1 versus Nahunta (Ga.) Brantley County.

Just watching him warm-up in pregame is enough to know that this young man has one of the strongest legs in the country.

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