Bryce Petty is ready for his moment.
After years of backup duty at Baylor, the quarterback is anxious to prove he’s more than just a flash in the college pan. Petty was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets this year and took a handful of snaps under center in the squad’s preseason opener.
As the quarterback situation on his team seems to be in a constant state of flux, Petty has tried to stay the course, focused simply on seizing the opportunities in front of him. After all, that’s exactly what he did at Baylor and look what that got him.
Here’s what you need to know about Petty, his home town and his slightly unexpected roots:
1. Petty Grew Up in Texas & Was Also a Standout Track & Field Star
Petty grew up Texas and attended Midlothian High School, just outside of Waco, where he was a standout athlete.
Of course, football was Petty’s calling card and he was named the District 15-4A Offensive Sophomore of the Year after throwing for 979 yards and four touchdowns in 2006. That number skyrocketed during his senior season. Petty threw for 2,042 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2007 as well as recorded 101 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Despite missing some game-action as a senior, Petty still impressed, throwing for 1,507 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another five TDs.
In addition to football, Petty also excelled at track and field. He competed, naturally, in throwing events and placed second at the 2009 District 16-4A meet in the discus.
2. He is a Member of the Chickasaw Nation
Petty boasts a strong heritage and is actually a member of the Chickasaw Nation, a tribe that lives mostly in the heart of Oklahoma. The quarterback said he considers it “an honor to have Chickasaw blood flowing through my veins along with the history of a resilient and unconquerable people” in an interview with the tribe’s website earlier this year.
The Chickasaw Nation boasts five different ecoregions within Oklahoma and established its first Constitution in 1865, creating the current territory in south-central Oklahoma. The tribe had previously lived in what is now Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee but were moved to Indian Territory during the “Great Removal,” on what was called the “Trail of Tears.”
3. Petty Became the Baylor Starting Quarterback in 2013
After redshirting his true freshman season in 2010, Petty appeared in five games as a backup behind Robert Griffin III the following season. He was a backup again during his sophomore year, sitting behind Nick Florence on the Baylor depth chart.
Petty finally got his chance starting under center during his junior season in 2013 and immediately made his mark on the college football world. That year, Petty passed for an almost-ridiculous 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns with only three interceptions He also rushed for 14 touchdowns. That year he led the Bears to their first Big 12 title and first-ever BCS game, falling 52-42 to Central Florida in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.
He followed up with a second stellar season as a senior, throwing for 3,85 yards and 29 touchdowns as well as six rushing touchdowns. Petty led Baylor to the program’s second straight Big 12 title before falling to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Petty still managed to perform well in the loss, throwing for a record 550 yards en route to offensive MVP honors.
4. He Signed a Four-Year Contract With the Jets in May
Petty was selected by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, going 103rd overall. He signed his rookie contract with the team in May, becoming the fourth of six Jets draft picks to ink their names on deals.
According to NJ.com, Petty’s four-year contract was reportedly worth just over $2.8 million with $553,696 guaranteed.
5. Petty Is Incredibly Religious & Was Baptized in 2012
Petty has frequently discussed how important his faith is to him and, in 2012, he took that faith a step further when he was baptized in a backyard swimming pool. There were only three people present at the event, including an ordained minister Chris Wommack, who had mentored Petty for months before. Wommack said that, “Bryce wanted the moment to be very private between him and God. It was the moment when he said, ‘God, my life is yours.'”
Petty said something shifted in 2012 when a family friend asked him how strong his faith was. It wasn’t strong and that didn’t sit well with the quarterback. After years of struggles on the football field, Petty admits that he had lost his way and opted to do something about it, returning to his faith. He said:
I’m a people-pleaser. I don’t get satisfaction unless I know you like what I’m doing. But [Briles] hardly talked to me. I’d have venting sessions with my mom and say, ‘I can’t tell if [Briles] even likes me.’ I was too into my feelings. I wasn’t being myself.
After his baptism in 2012, Petty found himself flourishing on the football field and, perhaps more importantly, off it as well. He started doing community service regularly and even ran a Bible study group in his hometown of Waco.
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