San Francisco 49ers fans, you just got the most accomplish punt returner in NCAA history. But Dante Pettis is a lot more than that. Here are some things you need to know, from the beat writer who covered his record-breaking college career.
1. Pettis is the most accomplished punt returner in NCAA history. As a senior last fall, he was a consensus All-American after returning four punts for a touchdown, giving him nine punt-record TDs.
2. He was also a first-team all-Pac-12 wide receiver in 2017, and he finished his career with 163 receptions for 2,256 yards and 24 touchdowns in 53 games. He wrote a letter for GoHuskies.com this week thanking UW fans for their support. “I think that one of the coolest things about playing football at UW, is that I didn’t just play on the team. I didn’t just play for the team. I played for everyone involved with Washington,” he wrote. “… I played for that little kid that constantly dreams of being in my position, because I was once him. I will never forget the first time I was stopped by someone who just wanted to talk about Husky Football. The love that you have for this program is incredible. I may not be walking around Seattle as much as I used to, but when you do see me there, please feel free to say hi, because my interactions with you all make my day.”
3. He likes cats. In 2016, Pettis got some curious looks because of go-to touchdown celebration that season. After a score, he would pretend to lick the back of his hand, then rub his paw on his right cheek. “It’s pretty simple: I love cats,” Pettis said. He had many chances to purr-fect that celebration in 2016, when he was among the nation’s leaders with 15 touchdown receptions.
4. He is an avid reader. His favorite book: The Great Gatsby.
5. He comes from a talented family. Pettis’ dad, Gary, was a major-league outfielder for 11 seasons, winning five Gold Gloves. Gary is now the third-base coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros. Dante’s mom, Peggy, was an NFL cheerleader, and his brother, Kyler, spent about three years as a regular cast member on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” And Dante’s cousin Austin was a standout receiver at Boise State who went on to be the 78th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, playing four seasons for the St. Louis Rams.