MOSCOW – Growing up in Illinois, Mason Petrino used to be certain his collegiate future would happen on a soccer pitch. Of course, he also knew the family business was also certain to come calling.
The son of Idaho coach Paul Petrino intends to follow his father’s path toward becoming a coach by doing what he did — playing quarterback for your dad in college. Petrino will sign a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday afternoon to play football for the Vandals.
Petrino recently finished a three-year career as starting quarterback at Pullman High. The 6-foot, 175-pound athlete will be given a chance at wide receiver, too, if the opportunity arises.
“I’m going in as a quarterback and then wherever I can play the most,” Petrino said. “I still want to be a quarterback … my uncle at Louisville (Bobby Petrino) told me I was a better receiver than I was a quarterback. I’m excited to join the program and get to work.”
Petrino points to a similar quarterback precedent in one of his dad’s offenses. Former Louisville standout Stefan Lefors, also standing at six-feet and barely breaking 200 pounds, threw for 5,741 yards in two seasons starting for the Cardinal and beat Boise State in the Liberty Bowl in 2004.
“That’s the type of offense for me. It’s just whatever the quarterback can do, his offense changes to the quarterback in there,” Petrino said.
Idaho’s incumbent starter at the position, Matt Linehan, won’t have to worry about having another coach on the sideline, Petrino would rather take the learning role. Linehan even spent a night on his bye week last season at one of Petrino’s high school games, giving him a halftime coaching talk from the stands.
“He knew me when I was probably eight months old, we have a good relationship,” Petrino said. “He’s probably going to be telling me what to do more than I’ll ever be telling him. He’s a good friend, it’ll be a good group to go in to.”
Petrino is likely to be fourth on the quarterback depth chart behind Linehan, sophomore Jake Luton and redshirt freshman Gunnar Amos. Staying at quarterback likely means using a redshirt and having a good opportunity to get his weight up from his soccer-playing frame after a three-year career on Pullman’s soccer squad.
And, eventually, he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandfather.
His uncle, Bobby, is currently on his second stint as coach at Louisville. His grandfather, Bob Petrino Sr., coached 28 seasons at NAIA Carroll College, winning 168 games.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach ever since I could walk,” Petrino said. “ … I see how it helps kids and then what you do for people behind the scenes that no one really points out. I know I love the game and just want to stay in the family business.”
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