It appears Arkansas might get a visit from one of the top 2025 linebacker prospects in the nation in the near future.
Riley Pettijohn, 6-2 1/2, 205 pounds, of McKinney, Texas, said he is intrigued with the Razorbacks after hearing from several teammates after they visited Arkansas and Fayetteville.
“I’ve never been down there, but my teammates have, and they say it’s a beautiful place,” Pettijohn said. “The coaches are cool and they have a nice facility, too.”
McKinney defensive back Xavier Filsaime, running back Bryan Jackson, linebacker Makhi Frazier and defensive back Zaidan Gentry attended the Razorbacks’ football game against Alabama last season in Fayetteville.
“They went down there last year for a game and said it was a good environment, good atmosphere,” Pettijohn said.
He has spoken with Arkansas assistant linebackers coach and senior defensive analyst Jake Trump.
“He’s a really cool guy, good coach,” Pettijohn said. “He’s created a good relationship with me.”
Pettijohn visited Southern Cal and Baylor in the spring and said Arkansas and Florida are schools he is considering visiting this summer. He said he has also FaceTimed with Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams.
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Pettijohn recorded 42 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 5 quarterback hurries as a sophomore while playing the edge.
“I don’t think it’s his natural position,” said McKinney coach Marcus Shavers, a former Razorbacks defensive lineman. “I don’t think he was as quick off the ball. Very raw. He was young and he hadn’t had an offseason due to the fact he had just played basketball as a freshman.”
Shavers said offseason workouts helped change Pettijohn’s body. He said that and a move to MIKE linebacker has benefited him, along with his father Duke Pettijohn being a former two-time All-Big East defensive lineman at Syracuse in the late 1990s.
“The product you’ll see on the field this season will be a far better product, but what people love about him is the fact is he has a great football pedigree,” Shavers said. “He comes from a great family.”
ESPN rates Pettijohn a 4-star recruit, the No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 63 overall prospect in the nation in the 2025 class. Pettijohn has been timed at 11 seconds in the 100 meters, Shavers said.
“He can flat out run,” Shavers added. “He’s a freak athlete. He was 6-2 1/2 and weighed 200 pounds and he ran 4.6 laser time at the Under Armour All-American Combine.”
Pettijohn moved to MIKE linebacker at the end of March and college coaches attending the Lions’ spring practices approved.
“The moment we moved him to MIKE [line]backer, his recruiting went to another level,” Shavers said. “He picked up offers from all over the country.”
Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Auburn, Southern Cal, Oregon and Texas A&M are some of the schools who have offered Pettijohn since late March. Arkansas, Michigan, Baylor, Nebraska are also among his 26 offers.
Pettijohn is excellent in the classroom.
“He’s a high-achieving academic kid. He has offers from Duke, Yale,” Shavers said. “He can go to Ivy League schools because he’s such a high-achieving academic kid.”
Shaver also said Pettijohn reminds him of former linebacker and teammate Freddie Fairchild and former Razorback linebacker Drew Sanders, who was recently taken by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the NFL Draft.
“He reminds you a lot of Drew Sanders,” Shavers said. “That’s who he fits the mold of to me.”