INDIANAPOLIS — As far as introductions go, they don’t get much better than Nick Petit-Frere to the pro football world at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Ohio State offensive linemen spoke for 20 minutes Thursday morning about a variety of topics, but they all centered on his love of football and appreciation for all the things the game has provided him so far.
He was also happy just to be at the combine.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity to be here and run a 40(-yard dash) in front of NFL teams,” he said. “That’s something when you’re little and you see these huge guys that are just running a 40 and you’re like, ‘If I get that opportunity to be in that moment and just perform in front of millions and millions of fans and family members and friends’ …
“Like this is the first opportunity I get to show myself on the NFL stage, so I want to make sure I show off my athleticism.”
Athletic ability has been Petit-Frere’s calling card since he came on the scene from Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla, four years ago. He was a five-star prospect and the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle in the country in 247Sports Composite rankings for the class of 2018, and scoring his commitment was a major victory for Ohio State after missing out on the top-rated offensive lineman in Ohio — Fairfield’s Jackson Carman.
The seventh-ranked player in the country, Petit-Frere arrived at Ohio State with a mission to bulk up before he would be ready to take the field for the Buckeyes, and he did just that.
After putting on about 40 pounds, he was listed at 6-5, 315 last season, though some NFL scouting reports note he appears to need to continue to get stronger to match up with the elite pass rushers in the league.
He played both right and left tackle at Ohio State but said he learned every position so he could be prepared for anything that might happen in a game.
“I’ve already had meetings with a lot of teams. I want to show them how analytical I am about football, how much I love the game,” he said. “Not only just because I love the game because I love playing it, but because of what the game had brought me. The game has brought me so many friends and family members.”
In front of a group of media that included multiple members of the Ohio State beat who know much about his story but also many new faces, Petit-Frere opened up about his early life.
His mother, Loris, had him when she was a senior in high school, and he lived with his grandparents for three years while she earned a degree at the University of South Florida.
“She finished up her degree a year early so she could come back and get me,” he said. “She just taught me so much about resilience and what it takes to achieve what you want to achieve. I remember when I was a little kid, she always told me, ‘Do you want to be great, or do you want to be mediocre?’
“When I was 6, she wanted to establish in me that I was going to be mature at a younger age because I needed to be able to do certain things differently without a father figure. You’re going to have to live life a little differently without a father figure. We always prayed to God every single day, and my mom would always tell me this prayer she would tell. She would say, ‘God, I want you to be his father figure. I want you to instill in him the things that I can’t instill in him as a mother.’
“At the end of the day, moms are the best. I mean, don’t get it twisted. You only get one mom at the end of the day, but there were certain things my mom knew she wouldn’t be able to do because she wasn’t a man, but God has been a father figure for me and He’s put people in my life that have given me those moments from my coaches to my teammates to my teammates’ fathers and my teammates’ brothers and sisters. Those things have been instilled in me from God above and to give me opportunities to learn how to become a man and a better person.”
He credits playing football for bringing many crucial people into his life, and that raised his appreciation for the game.
“I’ve created so many different relationships and new families because of football,” he said. “That’s kind of why I love the game because of what it’s been able to give me. I wasn’t afforded a father figure. I wasn’t afforded to have extra brothers and sisters, but the game gave that to me. That’s something I can never repay the game for.”