Gonzaga OL Richie Petitbon commits to Alabama


Gonzaga junior OL Richie Petitbon committed to Alabama during an unofficial visit last week (John McDonnell / The Washington Post).

When Richie Petitbon called Nick Saban last week to confirm his unofficial visit to Alabama, the Gonzaga junior offensive lineman hinted that he might have some good news for the Crimson Tide’s coach come Friday.

But even with this primer, the normally subdued Saban couldn’t hide his excitement when Petitbon verbally committed to play for Alabama during a conversation in the coach’s office that morning.

“I told him I was ready to commit to Alabama and he was really excited,” Petitbon said. “That’s probably the most excited I’ve seen or heard him. He got up and gave me a big hug. I’ve known for about a week or two that Alabama was the school I wanted to go to and it’s an awesome feeling to have made my decision and have the opportunity to play at a great school.”

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Washington Redskins defensive coordinator and coach Richie Alvin Petitbon, and his father Richie Michael Petitbon, who played linebacker at Maryland, “RP3″ — as he’s called by some around him — has soared up the recruiting rankings and garnered more than 20 offers from Bowl Championship Series teams with his impressive blend of size, athleticism and versatility.

With Petitbon standing out at the left tackle position, Gonzaga rushed for 2,163 yards and 24 touchdowns, and Petitbon earned second-team All-Met honors. At 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, he has the agility to play all five positions along the offensive line and also serves a key role on the basketball and lacrosse teams.

“Coach Saban, (offensive line) Coach (Mario) Cristobal and (outside linebackers) Coach Lance Thompson see me as a guy that can play any position and come in and compete as a freshman,” Petitbon said. “For me, I’m ready to do whatever gets me on the field and helps me make an impact and impose my will out there on the offensive line.”

Two days before making his college football commitment, Petitbon etched his name into Gonzaga lacrosse history, scoring what’s believed to be a school-record eight goals in the No. 4 Eagles’ win against St. Albans on Wednesday.

“It was definitely a really good week,” said Petitbon, who had narrowed his list down to Boston College, LSU, Maryland and Penn State. “My plan all along was to have my commitment out of the way before my senior year so I could focus on the team and us getting a WCAC championship.”

When Petitbon steps onto the Alabama campus as a student-athlete in the fall of 2015, he’ll be joined on the defensive side of the ball by Woodbridge senior defensive end Da’Shawn Hand and former Stone Bridge defender Jonathan Allen.

Recruit Watch: The latest offers, commitments and signings

Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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