STEUBENVILLE - Shaq Petteway will be a Mountaineer.
The Steubenville Big Red senior has verbally committed to play football for coach Bill Stewart's West Virginia squad.
''My mother was always a big part in my decision, as was my little brother,'' Petteway said. ''My little brother (Shyoun, a.k.a. Pookie, who is 11) is like my son. I help raise my little brother.
''My mom always let me know that she didn't care where I went to school.
''When I took her to West Virginia, she got emotional and looked at me and I just knew. Then I looked at my little brother and I just knew.''
Petteway, who is 32-5 as a member of Big Red, chose WVU instead of Michigan State.
''Before I knew I could be a Division-I athlete, I always liked Michigan State, I was a fan of them,'' he said. ''I knew we had ties to Michigan State.
''Michigan State was always in the back of my mind. I knew I could always get to Michigan State and still be connected to the Big Red family.''
Stewart and the Mountaineers have been hot on Petteway's trail for a long time.
''They offered me right after my sophomore year,'' Petteway said. ''I always knew I wanted me to go there.
''It was very surprising to me. I never thought I would be in this situation.
''I felt the same family bond at WVU that we have here at Big Red. At West Virginia, you always have a home, no matter what you do after football.''
Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia knows this is a special opportunity for Petteway.
''This is a perfect opportunity for him,'' the coach said. ''I think the location of West Virginia had a lot to do with it. I think that Branko being there had even more to do with it.
''I think those were the two pluses that West Virginia had.
''His choice came down to playing at West Virginia or playing in the Big Ten and I don't think he could have made a mistake in either place he went. I'm thrilled for him and I know he'll do well.''
Branko Busick, a 2009 Big Red graduate, is a redshirt freshman with the Mountaineers.
''I know he's going to take me under his wing, just like he did here his senior year and my sophomore year,'' Petteway said of Busick. ''He'll show me the ropes, make sure I'm safe and stay out of trouble.''
Petteway knows he's a role model to more children than his little brother.
''I watch everything I do in front of my little brother because I know he's watching,'' he said. ''Even though he's 11, he's a lot smarter than 11. He picks up on everything. He might not say anything, but if he sees me do something, he knows in the back of his mind that's it's wrong or it's right.
''I try to be respectful to everybody to show him the way to grow up to be a man.
''I love the kids. It's an honor for me to slap their hands or sign something for them. I never thought I would be in this situation.''
Saccoccia believes Petteway will do well at the next level.
''He'll do a great job at West Virginia,'' he said. ''He's done a great job for us and it's not even his football. It's his personality. It's his love for the game. It's how he feels about his teammates.
''When JM (Jordon Meyer) got hurt for us (right before the half against Morgantown), Shaq was in tears at halftime. He and Anthony Pierro were shook up over one of their teammates being down.
''That's a sign of leadership.
''He's felt bad because Jesse (Birden) hasn't been around (due to injury) for four or five weeks. He has feelings.
''A coach can't teach a kid to be a good kid. We get those kids from their mothers.
''He's a good-hearted kid all the way around.''