At 4 years old, Troy Pelletier was crowned the mascot of his brother’s high school football team. Donning a jersey, helmet and shoulder pads, he stood on the sidelines, patiently waiting for the day he could get in on the action.
Three years later, that day came. Pelletier was 7, the first year he was eligible to play football. He was among the smallest and youngest, but at least he wasn’t a mascot anymore.
By his junior year of high school, Pelletier had separated himself from the pack. He was Manchester Central High School’s star wide receiver, a member of New Hampshire’s first team All-State and the school’s record holder for most catches and receptions in a single season. College scouts came to see him play and scholarship offers followed closely behind.
During September of Pelletier’s freshman year, the Lehigh football team battled the University of New Hampshire on the road. Pelletier’s family and friends traveled from their homes in Deerfield to watch him play.
From then on, the roles were reversed — they were his mascots now. Pelletier scored half of Lehigh’s total points against UNH with two touchdowns. It was his first game appearance as a Mountain Hawk.
“From then on, I’ve been a starting player,” Pelletier said. “That game was kind of how my career started.”
Now, as a senior wide receiver for the Hawks, Pelletier’s name paints the university and Patriot League record books.
On Nov. 4 during the game against Bucknell University, he set the Patriot League record of career receptions with 296 receptions. On Oct. 16 against Georgetown University, he set the single-game school and Patriot League record with 16 receptions. During that game, he was also named the school record holder for receiving yards with 3,675 and tied the Patriot League career record for touchdown receptions with 34.
And that’s just this season.
Since freshman year, Pelletier has accumulated 19 100-yard receiving games with six in this season alone. Last season, Pelletier won third team All-American honors from the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He earned first team All-Patriot League honors for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and judging by his numbers this season, he has another one on the way.
Although Pelletier has a lot to brag about, he doesn’t let it get to his head.
Tim McGorry, Lehigh’s wide receivers coach, met Pelletier for the first time at an offseason practice in spring 2017 when McGorry signed on to the coaching staff.
“My first impression was that he’s very quiet, and I wouldn’t say withdrawn, just very observant,” McGorry said.
Although most players tone down their energy during the spring, McGorry noticed Pelletier practiced harder than any player he’s ever worked with.
Scott Brisson, the offensive coordinator and former wide receivers coach from 2014-2016, realized Pelletier’s quiet intensity from day one.
“He practiced at a very, very high level and retained a lot of information very early on,” Brisson said, “so we knew that he had a chance to be pretty special.”
“Underrated” is the word Brisson always uses to describe Pelletier. It’s not a word typically associated with an athlete who has received the amount of accolades that Pelletier has. But to Brisson, he’s more special than people realize.
That’s why Brisson and the rest of the coaching staff are helping Pelletier achieve his dream of playing in the NFL. Brisson said Pelletier has been working with the strength coach to become a more fluid and attractive player to NFL scouts.
So far, it’s paid off.
Brisson said a scout from almost every NFL team has come to Lehigh to visit Pelletier and a few other players, and the initial feedback has been positive.
“(Pelletier) is mature enough to know that coming from a smaller place like Lehigh, the odds are stacked against him a little bit,” McGorry said, “but his production on the field has given him the opportunity to at least work out in front of scouts and get him into a training camp. It’s just a question of how hard he will work once the season’s over, and hopefully he’ll put himself in a good position for the NFL.”
Pelletier said playing in the NFL has always been his dream, and it’s a dream that could only be made sweeter if his teammates came along for the journey.
Senior defensive back Quentin Jones is the first person Pelletier met when he stepped onto campus. They entered Lehigh together, and if all goes right, they hope to enter the NFL together.
“Troy and I have been friends since day one,” Jones said. “We had a vibe and since then, it’s just been good to see him ball, to break records, get open and get touchdowns.”
As The Rivalry game approaches, Pelletier said he’s never been more excited for a game before — and that’s coming from the athlete who started off his Le-Laf career at Yankee Stadium.
“Nothing compares to being at home for my last Le-Laf game with the Patriot League championship on the line,” Pelletier said.
Jones said he’s confident Lehigh will defeat Lafayette for the third consecutive year, especially under the lead of one of the most accomplished wide receivers in Lehigh history.
“If someone said (Pelletier) was the best,” Brisson said, “I certainly would not argue with them”