Mitch Petrus always went hard.
As a Razorback walk-on, he showed immense drive and dedication in becoming an All-SEC guard in 2007 and 2009. Then he played for New York, helping power the Giants to a Super Bowl XLVI win.
In more recent years, before he passed away Thursday night at age 32 of heat stroke-related illness, the Carlisle naive became an Arkansas football analyst, a cake icing extraordinaire, a Keke challenge dancer and apparently involved in the roadside assistance business.
When it came to music, however, Petrus felt most comfortable strumming on his Fender Stratocaster guitar and bass.
When he started at the University of Arkansas, Petrus was much more into playing the video game “Halo” than music, but his guitarist friend Drew Hudgens piqued his interest in learning how to play the instrument.
“Hudgens said the pair started slowly but Petrus — with the same hyper-intensive style that has endeared him to his Giants teammates — quickly embraced what he was learning,” the New York Times‘ Sam Borden wrote. “In addition to working with Hudgens, Petrus began reading about playing the guitar and also watched YouTube videos so he could learn more.”
“’He’s got that drive,’ Drew Hudgens said. ‘It’s probably the same thing that made him successful as a walk-on. He just goes after things. He picked things up so fast.'”
On his own, Mitch Petrus would strum random chords or an A-flat scale, or play favorites like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood,” or a Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
In public, he loved to jam with Hudgens and other friends in a heavy metal band called the Vikings of the North Atlantic (VONA). In December 2011, Petrus said he planned to spend much of the off-season in the metro area and hoped his bandmates would join him so the group could play gigs in New York. He wanted to meet power players in the music industry and convince them, though “I’m a big, dumb football player, I can also play a little music.”
Early on, the band completed a six-song demo CD. It included the below song, which was used on a highlight reel for one of the Giants’ weekly TV shows.
Rest in peace, Mitch. You left far too early, but Arkansans and New Yorkers alike will not forget you.
More on Mitch Petrus
Mitch Petrus was a four-year letterwinner for the Razorbacks who played in 49 games during his career with 25 starts. He began as a walk-on for the Razorbacks and he played fullback, guard, tight end and was on the kick coverage unit during his four seasons with the team.
As a senior, he earned All-SEC first-team honors from the league coaches and was a second-team choice by the AP. He also earned second-team honors from the league coaches for his play in the 2007 season blocking for the likes of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. He earned his degree from the UA in agricultural economics and in 2010 was drafted by the New York Giants (16th pick in the fifth round).
In the following years, Mitch Petrus got engaged, although it’s unclear whether a marriage ever happened or not. Regardless, the engagement story — which features lake boating and misdirection — is a heartwarming one.
“Me and her are just cruising right along, and all the sudden I act real surprised,” he told Giants Insider. “I say ‘Hey, look at that lake house right over there. And then she turned her head and looked away. And when she turned back, I had the ring out.”
His girlfriend said “yes.”
The reporter, Anita Marks, questioned why he didn’t write a song for her or use his band to serenade her. “I’d write her a song, but it would more of a “VONA Unplugged” instead,” Petrus said, chuckling. “I don’t want to write her a hard rock song asking her to marry me.”