Richmond-Burton tight end-defensive end Jacob Petersen committed Saturday to play football at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Petersen will play tight end for the Crusaders.
Richmond-Burton tight end-defensive end Jacob Petersen committed Saturday to play football at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Petersen will play tight end for the Crusaders. — Matthew Apgar - mapgar@shawmedia.com

Richmond-Burton’s Jacob Petersen knew he needed to do two things to reach the NCAA Division I level for football – get bigger and faster.

Since the Rockets won the Class 4A state championship last November, Petersen added almost 30 pounds through eating and lifting weights, but also dropped his 40-yard dash time almost three-tenths of a second.

Petersen (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) committed to NCAA Division I Holy Cross this week. He made his decision Thursday, but let the other schools recruiting him know his intentions before announcing his choice Saturday on Twitter.

Holy Cross plays in the Patriot League, an FCS conference.

“It’s exciting. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to play D-I football and now it’s a lot more real rather than just having offers,” Petersen said.

Petersen’s other top choices were Fordham and Illinois State. He liked Holy Cross because that coaching staff wanted him at tight end, and he liked the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, where the school is located.

Petersen and his parents visited the campus, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, could not speak face-to-face with the Crusaders’ coaching staff.

“They showed me videos of every nook and cranny of the whole place,” Petersen said. “I did a lot of Zoom calls, trying to meet them without getting to meet them (in person).”

Petersen was a key contributor on offense and defense for the Rockets last season. He caught 18 passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns on offense. At defensive end, he was in on 39 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries.

“He’s thought this through pretty well and had some good opportunities,” Rockets coach Mike Noll said. “LIke a lot of our guys, I think his best football’s to come. He’s put on about 30 pounds and he’s a faster version of himself. He’ll be real good.”

Petersen said he drinks mass gain shakes and eats close to 6,000 calories a day. His work with Tommy Christian at TC Boost, a speed training facility in Northbrook, was key.

Noll, who formerly coached at Glenbrook South, had worked with Tommy Christian and his brother, Bob, who both played at Northwestern. Tommy was a linebacker, Bob was a running back, who later played in the NFL with the Bears and Atlanta.

“We call Tommy our speed guru,” Noll said. “He came up to Richmond once a week in the summer (of 2019) and Jacob kept working with him. It’s really paid dividends.”

Petersen said he ran a 5.02 40 at a North Central College camp last winter, and now is running in the 4.7 range.

“I did things on my own at our track [in the offseason],” Petersen said. “[Christian] would send me workouts and and speed training. I did those two or three times a week. I’ve been going to him two times a week since he reopened (after the coronavirus shutdown).”