Richie Petitbon received an introduction to Nick Saban few recruits get


EDITOR’S NOTE: Introducing O-line week at Saturday Down South. This week we’ll talk to some of the biggest offensive line recruits and commitments in the SEC, get their take on things … and we’ll rank ‘em.

The first time Richie Petitbon met Nick Saban, the conversation wasn’t about how much Saban liked the prospect’s technique or that he had quick feet. The discussion was about how much Saban respected and admired Petitbon’s grandfather.

How often does that happen to a wide-eyed teenaged recruit?

This is the life of a Petitbon. And while we are at it, is there a cooler name for a down-in-the-mud, gritty, nasty, tough-as-nails lineman than a surname that is pronounced PettyBone? It just flows. It’s a great football name. Yeah, we know its origins are French, but in English—good ‘ole American English—it translates into football of the gridiron variety.

Maybe it’s a good-sounding football name because Richie’s granddad, also Richie Petitbon, was a Pro Bowl selection four times in his NFL career, racked up 48 career interceptions in the league, and went on to become an accomplished defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs during the Washington Redskins heyday of the 1980s.

We can still hear John Madden saying the name. Nobody said it better.

RELATED: SEC’s offensive line recruits aren’t afraid of the reputation of SEC D-linemen … in fact, they embrace the challenge

At any rate, the youngest Petitbon has quite a bloodline (his father played for Maryland, his great-uncle for Notre Dame). Maybe that’s why Saban and his staff are so sure he’ll be the real deal.

“They’ve said it before, the name is a great football name,” Richie Petitbon, the current Alabama commitment, told Saturday Down South. “It kind of just comes out like that. You think of football. Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times. It sounds good to me.”

Petitbon (6-4/300) is rated the No. 4 offensive guard in the nation and the No. 92 overall prospect in the country by’s composite ranking. He committed to the Crimson Tide early in April, over offers from national champion Florida State and SEC schools like LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky. He attends an outstanding high school in the Washington D.C. area, Gonzaga.

He has the overall intelligence and football saavy required for the position—or more accurately, for the positions. See, Petitbon may play out to be like Barrett Jones was—incredibly versatile.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, my versatility on the offensive line,” Petitbon told SDS. “Being able to play all five positions, I think that’s what the coaches like. They say they like the thing between my ears, and that whether it’s at center, or guard, wherever–they like that and my quickness and size.

“(Alabama assistant) coach (Lance) Thompson talks about Barrett Jones a lot. He was one of the greatest. To even have my name brought up next to a name like that, that’s just really, really great.”

RELATED: Nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2016 is offensive lineman Greg Little, and he tells SDS what he thinks of the SEC

Is it really any big surprise that a family that has such deep NFL connections would gravitate towards a college program that resembles a pro one? Saban’s been a head coach in the NFL and spent years there as an assistant.

It was a good match, Petitbon said.

“It is run like a professional football team,” Petitbon told SDS. “Definitely going into my college decision, I looked at a lot of places. And they do it the right way. Everything is scheduled out. Practice, film, meetings … that all went into my college decision. My grandfather being an NFL coach, you can be sure that all factored into me going to Alabama.

“I mean, not everybody goes to the NFL, but I could definitely do it being around those football minds.”

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