'I was dead set on not even going to college': Late offer from Georgia Tech makes Petty's 'big school' dream come true

May 1—CHATSWORTH — A month ago, North Murray High School senior Judson Petty had all but decided he wouldn't be attending college.

Then, his phone rang.

On the other end was a representative of the football program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, offering Petty the collegiate chance he was holding out for.

"I was dead set on not even going to college," Petty said. "Then, I got a phone call about a month ago, and they just wanted me to come down and play."

Petty got the offer of a roster spot on the Yellow Jacket football team and a partial scholarship to attend the Atlanta school.

Petty received that offer earlier this month, committed to the program a few days later and made his decision final on Wednesday, signing with Georgia Tech during a ceremony in North Murray's library.

"I'm so proud of him," North Murray head coach Preston Poag said at the ceremony. "If I had one guy to sit up here and say 'this is what Mountaineer football looks like,' it would be him."

Petty had some offers from smaller schools, but it was big-time college football or bust for Petty. He wanted the chance to play at the highest level of college football: NCAA Division I's Football Bowl Subdivision.

"It meant the world to me," Petty said after the ceremony. "I've always dreamed about playing at a big school, and now I finally have the opportunity to do it."

Petty played all over the field for North Murray, but he'll start out working with Georgia Tech's wide receivers, he said Thursday.

Petty was named the Daily Citizen's All-Area Player of the Year after his senior season 2023. The versatile, two-way star set a new state record for receiving yards in a game when he hauled in 360 yards in an August game against Pickens. Petty caught 67 passes for 1,407 yards and 14 touchdowns, good for an average of 21 yards per catch. He also rushed for 518 yards and six scores on 89 carries. On defense, he amassed 110 tackles, snagged two interceptions and had three defensive touchdowns.

"College will be a breeze for him," Poag joked at the ceremony. "He'll get a break and he won't be playing the whole game."

Poag said Petty has had the best statistical career for a player in a North Murray uniform, which is a statement that carries a lot of weight for a program that had a former player picked in the second round of the NFL Draft last week.

Ladd McConkey, wearing No. 15, starred for North Murray, went on to play wide receiver at Georgia — Georgia Tech's biggest rival — and was picked with the 34th selection of the NFL Draft Friday by the Los Angeles Chargers.

When McConkey graduated in 2020, it was Petty that stepped into the No. 15 jersey for the Mountaineers starting in the fall of 2020. McConkey's No. 15 jersey was retired by the team during a game in October 2023, but North Murray assistant coach Chevis Brooks joked at Wednesday's ceremony that perhaps the jersey should be retired for both North Murray stars and bear the name "McPetty" on the back.

Just like McConkey, who played at several positions at North Murray, Petty is concentrating on the wide receiver position in college.

"I'm mainly working on speed and route-running," Petty said. "There are a lot better (defensive backs) and just a lot more talent and physical attributes at the next level, and it's going to be a big difference."