By Cody Soto
ARLINGTON – Senior quarterback Bryce Petty has been through a lot in his past five years as a Baylor Bear, and he will tell you that it’s all worth it. Petty is a believer.
The Midlothian native sat the bench during his first few years on campus, but that didn’t discourage him. For any athlete signing a Divison 1 scholarship to a university, it’s difficult to step down from significant playing time on their high school team to possibly redshirting their first year. Petty did it twice, a greyshirt and redshirt year in his first two seasons in Waco.
Playing behind Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and Holiday Bowl winner Nick Florence is a tough job, and perhaps an even tougher act to follow. However, some could say faith played a part in Petty’s journey.
When Griffin went down during the 2011 shootout against Texas Tech, Florence went in. That forced Petty to wait another year to start. It was difficult for Petty, and he’s said himself that he had to learn patience during his first few years. That patience earned him the starting spot in 2013, and who would have known just what he could accomplish?
Fans cheer for Petty for several reasons, and it’s safe to say that he has made an impact on the Baylor community. Ever since he was named the starting quarterback for Baylor, Petty has been vocal about his faith and the impact it’s had on his playing ability.
Fans, and especially parents, admire the example Petty is portraying in his daily life.
Petty has continuously reminded the community how important his faith is to him. During the Bears’ postgame locker room interview session, Petty was asked what he learned about his faith during the team’s 42-41 loss in the Cotton Bowl Thursday afternoon, and he said exactly what he thought.
The perspective of his faith would not change simply because Baylor lost the game.
“It’s just a football game,” Petty said. “It’s a blessing to be able to play this, so it has nothing to do with a loss of faith or anything like that. My prayer before every game is win, lose or draw. I hope and pray that God sits well with how I performed and knows I did it for Him. I’ll never waiver that.”
That answer is what Petty is all about. Over and over again, Petty has put his trust in the man upstairs, and he uses that trust to play football. Petty will undeniably leave a legacy as a two-time Big 12 championship quarterback who led Baylor to its first conference titles since 1974 and 1980 in the Southwest Conference.
However, it’s his legacy off the field that will leave the biggest impact.
“He stands for more than a football player,” senior receiver Levi Norwood said. “He lives his life for Christ, and that’s huge having a leader like that especially at a Christian university.”
Petty’s name is cemented in Baylor football history, and for the first time in two seasons, someone else will be the leader of the offense in 2015. Petty leaves Baylor as the all-time total offensive yards per play, yards per attempt, interception percentage and touchdown-interception ratio for the Bears.
The last interception by Petty in Thursday’s bowl game does not define the player he was for Baylor. His 550-yard passing game, a career high, is what should be the memory of that game.
The humbleness and positivity portrayed by the record-breaking quarterback has captivated Baylor fans, students and alumni. Petty’s favorite bible verses, 1 Peter 5:6-7, speak of his character.
It says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
During bowl week, head coach Art Briles was asked whether or not he thinks Petty deserves a statue like RGIII, and Briles said he didn’t mind another statue at the 266-million-dollar stadium. With a mindset like Petty, his statue would probably be his well-known pose: pointing to the sky.
“When people look back on my career here, I want them to say that I was all in,” Petty said. “I want people to say that I was a passionate guy who loved people and played the game of football for God’s glory.”
Although he will not return to the field in a Baylor uniform, fans will look to cheer on Petty wherever he decides to go, and knowing his determination, patience and faith, he will not disappoint.