A rising tight end prospect out of Illinois is on the Wildcats’ radar.
Chris Petrucci, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound TE recruit out of Maine South High School in Park Ridge, IL, is rated by 247 Sports as a three-star player in the class of 2022. His popularity has seen a boom over the last month or so, with the Iowa Hawkeyes extending an offer back in the middle of February and several Power 5 schools following suit. The Kentucky Wildcats is the most recent of those schools that have reached out.
Petrucci announced via Twitter on Friday that UK safeties coach Frank Buffao had offered him a scholarship, his first from an SEC program. Buffano has been in contact with Petrucci since September and the two have retained a strong relationship moving forward.
— Chris Petrucci (@ChrisPetrucci19) March 19, 2021
“Coach Buffano was one of the first coaches that I ever talked to and we’ve definitely kept a steady relationship over time,” Petrucci told KSR. “It’s really exciting to receive my first SEC offer. That was pretty great.”
Buffano’s message to Petrucci has been that he could come to Lexington and be a “game-changer”.
“That I could be a big part of the gameplan,” Petrucci said about what the UK coaching staff is telling him. “That I’m a game-changer and that I fit pretty well with the coaching staff and what they do over there. So that’s pretty great to hear.”
He’d been receiving offers from mostly Ivy League schools and a couple of other smaller programs before Iowa came along, which turned out to be the tipping point for Petrucci’s recruitment as Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue all extended offers shortly after the Hawkeyes. Cincinnati also did the same before Kentucky got in the mix shortly after, as well.
“My coach was definitely a big advocate for them [Iowa] making that offer to me so that was really exciting,” Petrucci added. “That got the ball rolling, it helped out a lot. Having them take a chance showed other schools that they might want to get in on the process as well and that was a really big moment. It definitely helped.”
Vanderbilt, and particularly Northwestern, are two other schools with which Petrucci talks regularly, although both are waiting until he completes his junior season before making an offer official. Petrucci said he’s been talking with Northwestern for “a long time”.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Petrucci and his Maine South squad did not have a fall season and are instead participating in a six-game spring season. The opening game of the schedule was this past Friday–a win for Maine South–and Petrucci played about 10-15 snaps in his first time back on the field in roughly 500 days. The goal for the remaining five games is to keep the recruiting momentum rolling.
“I’ve added on some good weight since my sophomore season, close to about 15 pounds, and I’m still able to move better and still maintain some good speed while adding on that good weight as well,” Petrucci said about what he wants to put on display in the shortened-season.” Showing what I can do at the varsity level in this offense with a bunch of skill players, that we can go out and score, and that I’m an impact player.”
Without a traditional fall season, Petrucci was still able to attract schools such as Iowa and Kentucky thanks to mini-camps and sending out old film to coaches, but having a fresh way to showcase his talents is sure to bring in more potential suitors.
It’s been over a year since Petrucci has seen a college campus when he took a trip to Iowa in early March of 2020 and, as of right now, his family only has one visit to Minnesota planned for the summer, although more will surely be added. Chris’ father, Joe Petrucci, told KSR that they are “chomping at the bit” to go on plenty of visits over the next several months.
Petrucci is one of several 2022 tight end prospects that the Kentucky staff has already offered, but he’s one to keep an eye on moving forward.