SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Boise State sophomore linebacker Tanner Vallejo and Arizona senior defensive tackle Dan Pettinato shared a ride to the Sacramento airport Friday.
Their teams will clash in the Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday.
Vallejo and Pettinato played at Nevada Union High in Grass Valley, Calif. They were three years apart, but Vallejo joined the varsity team toward the end of Pettinato’s senior year.
Pettinato played at Nevada Union with Vallejo’s older brother, Zach, who drove them to the airport after Christmas break. Vallejo played with Pettinato’s younger brothers.
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“I knew he was going to be a big-time recruit,” Pettinato said. “I was trying to get him to Arizona.”
Arizona was the first school to offer Vallejo a scholarship. He visited Boise State first and committed.
“I had high interest in (Arizona),” Vallejo said. “It was between them and Boise. I took a visit to Boise and committed. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t committed right away. If I hadn’t committed, I probably would have (visited Arizona). I’m glad where I’m at, though.”
Vallejo leads the Broncos with 86 tackles and is second with 15 tackles for loss this season. He also has three fumble recoveries, four pass breakups, an interception and two touchdowns.
Pettinato has contributed 44 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
“It just goes to show our high school coaches put a good work ethic into us,” Vallejo said.
Vallejo and Pettinato got together when they were home for Christmas for a media interview and family dinner. Their Fiesta Bowl clash is a source of community pride and some friendly banter, Pettinato said.
This is the second Vallejo-Pettinato bowl matchup. Zach was on the Nevada roster for the 2012 New Mexico Bowl won by Arizona. Pettinato played; Zach didn’t.
“It adds to the hype of the game,” Pettinato said. “It makes it like a little bit of a rivalry for us. We’re always talking trash, but friendly. We’ll see who his older brother roots for because he said ‘good luck’ to both of us.”
Other highlights from Sunday’s media availability (more to come):
— Arizona center Steven Gurrola on Boise State: “They outhustle their opponent, outwork the tackles, outwork the edge. They don't stop until the whistle is blown.”
— Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates: “I want to be a dominant defense — 10, 11, 12 points per game. You say you can't do that (in college today). That's a challenge."
— Yates said senior safety Jeremy Ioane will “probably not” play in the Fiesta Bowl. Ioane, who has a kidney disease, hasn’t played since getting a couple series on Senior Day.
— Boise State safety Corey Bell on the 2007 Fiesta Bowl comeback: “We call my stepmom 'Little Miss Optimistic.' My stepmom was like 'You just wait.' That time she was 100 percent right."
— Bell: "Everyone remembers the 2007 and 2010 Fiesta Bowls. Hard to say anybody remembers the Hawaii Bowl in 2013."
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