SBCC’s Pettit, Wishnowsky sign with D-1 programs

SBCC football players Jake Pettit, left, and Mitch Wishnowsky are moving on to the next level.

SBCC football players Jake Pettit, left, and Mitch Wishnowsky are moving on to the next level.

A pair of SBCC football players from opposite ends of the Earth announced their commitments to four-year schools on Friday in a press conference at La Playa Stadium.

Mitch Wishnowsky, a 6-4, 225-pound punter/kicker from Gosnells, Western Australia, is going to Utah in the Pac-12 Conference. Jake Pettit, a 6-4, 220-pound linebacker from Truckee, Calif., signed with Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference.

Wishnowsky was an All-State punter for the Vaqueros last year as a freshman. He ranked sixth in the state with a 39.8-yard average and boomed a 77-yarder vs. L.A. Pierce, the second-longest punt in school history. He also did a fine job as the kickoff man and filled in briefly as the field-goal kicker. He’ll redshirt next season and then have three years remaining in Salt Lake City, Utah, starting in 2016.

Wishnowsky was No. 1 in the state with 30 punts that stayed inside the 20. He had six punts downed at the 1-yard line for the Vaqueros, who went 7-4 and played in a bowl game for the first time in 17 years.

“Mitch is one of the better athletes I’ve ever been around,” said Vaquero coach Craig Moropoulos. “He’s one of the finest punter/kickoff combination guys around. I think he has the ability to play on Sundays. He has the uncanny ability to not freeze up in pressure situations. He’s fast, he’s strong and he can run with the football. That will be a weapon for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.”

Utah went 9-4 in 2014 and whipped Colorado State 45-10 in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes’ current punter, junior Tom Hackett, is also from Australia and he won the Ray Guy Award as the top punter in the nation.

Wishnowsky and Pettit will both major in kinesiology.

“I’d been in contact with Utah through my coach back home, Nathan Chapman at Pro Kick, and they have a fellow Pro Kick punter there in Tom Hackett,” said Wishnowsky. “They showed a lot of interest in me from the get-go and Tom speaks really highly of them. The coach seems like a good bloke and I’ve spoken to him a few times.

“Tim Gleeson (another Australian who played at SBCC and is now punting for Rutgers) spoke highly of SBCC, so it didn’t take much to convince me to come here. There’s a beautiful beach and it’s the No. 1 Community College in the nation. I love the beach and the people are very welcoming. This is a great place to start off in America.”

Pettit was a two-year starter for the Vaqueros and was third in tackles with 56 in eight games last year. His average of 7.0 tackles a game was No. 1 on the team.

“Jake is a two-year guy who came from a winning program (Truckee High),” said Moropoulos. “He is a winner and he brought a lot of that demand and expectation and competition to our team on a daily basis.

“He’s an outstanding linebacker with a 3.72 GPA at Santa Barbara City College. That’s pretty darn good. He’s got a unique balance of academics and athletics and he’s absolutely a first-rate young man.”

Pettit had a career-high 14 tackles vs. Glendale on Nov. 15.

“One night I was hanging out at my mom’s house in San Luis Obispo over winter break and I got a voice mail from Coach (Roger) Cooper from Idaho State,” he recalled. “I listened to it over and over and couldn’t believe it. So I called him back and he says ‘Hi Jake, I loved your film and I really want you to play for us.’

“I was talking to a couple of other schools but when I heard from Idaho State, I wanted to go there. I didn’t have a guaranteed spot until two or three weeks ago. I kept calling the coach back and it all worked out.”

Cooper is the co-defensive coordinator for the Bengals, who went 8-4 last year and tied for second in the 13-team Big Sky with a 6-2 record. They averaged 40.3 points and won six of their last seven.

Pettit played with four other players from Truckee in his freshman season. The Vaqueros have won 7 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1982-83.

“I love to win and it was awesome playing here,” he said. “The thing that’s supplemented my football is I’ve always had great coaches and that’s certainly true here. I was fortunate enough to be the team captain this past year and that made the experience so much better.

“Academics are great too. The reason why I was able to go to Idaho State was because I have such a good GPA.”

The Bengals will play Boise State and UNLV in 2015. Pettit will run into his former SBCC defensive teammate, safety Zach Arnell, on Oct. 10 when Idaho State travels to North Dakota. The Bengals play at Cal Poly on Oct. 3.