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Stop this (Fresh)MAN !!

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by TxStar61, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. TxStar61

    TxStar61 New Member

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    Stop this (fresh)man!
    From East Texas roots, Peterson quickly
    has become Oklahoma's newest hero


    By Randy Riggs

    AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

    Wednesday, October 6, 2004

    NORMAN, Okla. -- There was always something about Adrian Peterson. Nice kid, very good athlete, the kind of player you want on your football team.

    But the full realization of what unsuspecting Palestine High School had in its midst didn't crystallize in the minds of its football coaches until the first practice in pads before Peterson's junior season in 2002.

    "It was called 32 zone," said former head coach Jeff Harrell, recalling the precise moment and play when realization struck with blinding suddenness in his head. "It was just a regular old inside zone play. But he blew through there like a man toying with high school kids.

    "All the coaches stopped and just looked at each other. It was like, 'Oh my, what have we got here?' "

    What they had would become the center flag in another classic Texas-Oklahoma recruiting tug-of-war. Peterson was on his way to becoming another East Texas legend, evoking memories of Hooks' Billy Sims, Tyler's Earl Campbell, Big Sandy's David Overstreet and another Palestine native son from the 1960s, "Super" Bill Bradley.

    They all wound up wearing either burnt orange or crimson and cream. They all experienced the adrenaline rush of walking down the Cotton Bowl tunnel in early October and being showered by either praise from the faithful or scorn by the jilted.

    Now it's Peterson's turn.

    There is no shortage of personalities linked to Saturday's 99th edition of the Red River Shootout. But, arguably, the brightest light, and heat that accompanies it, will be directed at the Sooners' No. 28 (on offense; on defense 28 belongs to another "AP," cornerback Antonio Perkins).

    Adrian Peterson says he's ready for whatever comes his way from the Longhorns -- the defense or their supporters.

    "Hey, I'm still a Texas fan because I'm from Texas," said the quiet youngster who once had a poster of Ricky Williams on his bedroom wall and refuses to make the upside-down Hook 'Em sign because he considers it disrespectful. "I just felt OU was the best choice for me."

    The choice, announced Jan. 3 at the halftime of a high school all-star game, capped a tumultuous recruiting period that essentially lasted for two years. After that 32 zone play on the first day of 2002 drills, it didn't take long for recruiters to find Palestine.

    After all, a running back who is 6 feet, 2 inches and 210 pounds, with the muscles of a weightlifter, the speed of a sprinter and the balance of a Baryshnikov, is going to attract a little bit of attention.

    While the recruiting battles for Campbell, Sims, Overstreet and Bradley were epic, they don't compare with what Peterson experienced. They can't. In this Internet age, with the proliferation of dot.com recruiting services, Peterson obsession wasn't limited to the Sooner and Longhorn camps. It was national.

    "I was getting calls from recruiting places in Connecticut," Harrell said. "It was crazy."

    Those close to Peterson believed he could handle it, but there was some initial anxiety.

    "You love the kid, so you certainly have concerns," said longtime family friend Steve Eudey. "Nobody can really know what to expect."

    Eudey assisted Peterson and his mother, Bonita, a former sprinter at the University of Houston, with the recruiting process. Peterson's father, Nelson, is in prison in Texarkana, serving a 10-year sentence for laundering drug money.

    "Adrian's personality -- and it helped him in the recruiting process -- is he's really laid-back," Eudey said. "He doesn't get too upset about anything. He just kind of lets things fall where they may. Sometimes that's stressful on the rest of us, but he handles it pretty well."

    There was plenty to handle. It was more than the constant attention of coaches -- in addition to Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, there was Southern Cal's Pete Carroll, Louisiana State's Nick Saban, Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione, among others.

    It also was the relentless quest of the recruiting services.

    "I really don't think there's any way to prepare for it," said Harrell, now an assistant athletic director at Texas High School in Texarkana. "It was a constant thing.

    "What was really hard were the recruiting services," Harrell added. "The coaches were OK, but all the services trying to get the latest was the constant barrage. They wanted any word, any thought they could get. That was tough."

    After Peterson rushed for 2,960 yards (11.7 yards per carry) and 32 touchdowns as a senior, the barrage reached avalanche proportions. Even after Peterson declared he would sign with OU, a full-page ad appeared in the Palestine Herald-Press begging Peterson to sign with a Texas school -- "Make us proud, Adrian," it begged. "Stay here!"

    Peterson's reaction was typical for him.

    "I just smiled about that and never bowed down to it," he said. "I didn't let that kind of stuff get to me."

    Peterson added insult to injury for Longhorn fans when he not only chose their most bitter rival but suggested it was because the Sooners have done a better job of developing talent. Stoops snorted this week when asked if part of Peterson's decision also might have been because UT's Cedric Benson had announced he would be returning for his senior year.

    "Everybody has their speculations," Stoops said. "You know what? I think Adrian looked at Oklahoma and said, 'Here's a team that's been in two of the last four national championships. Here's a team that's been in three of the last four Big 12 championships and has won some of those. Here's a team that had Quentin Griffin rush for almost 2,000 yards the year before (1,884 in 2002).'

    "Why wouldn't he want to go to Oklahoma?"

    His Mr. Football Hero reputation proceeded him to Norman, of course. But it didn't take long for Peterson to develop a close relationship with his new teammates.

    "I was expecting a cocky kid, real arrogant," said senior center Vince Carter. "But he's the complete opposite. He was a surprise to most of us. I believe that's one reason he's having success now. He came in humble, ready to work hard, and he hasn't slacked up at all."

    So far, Peterson has lived up to his billing. He's the first player in the Sooners' storied history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first four games, despite splitting time primarily with Kejuan Jones. His average of 136.5 rushing yards per game ranks fourth in the Big 12 and eighth nationally.

    Because of Peterson's fame, the Sooners have brought him along slowly with the press. Although he's the subject of a cover story in this week's Sports Illustrated, his availability to the media generally has been limited to postgame interviews, although that will increase as the season continues.

    "Coach Stoops just wants to ease him into that process," OU spokesman Kenny Mossman said. "If you've watched that process a time or two, you'd see why, because he's engulfed."

    Indeed, his remarkable talent has exposed Peterson to more than most 19-year-olds have ever faced. So far, he's handled it all gracefully and successfully. But the biggest hurdle yet comes Saturday.

    "I don't feel like I have anything to prove to anybody," Peterson said last week. "People say, 'Well, if he doesn't do this, then he was overrated.' I just go play. I don't really care what people think about me."

    rriggs@statesman.com; 445-3957
  2. Attitude471

    Attitude471 New Member

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    No No No...Run Adrian Run!!!!!!! Kid is awesome...averaging OVER 146 yards a game and just a freshman. Horns hate it cause he wanted to "play for a team where he could win championships, Texas doesn't fit that scenario"! Boomer Sooner, baby!!

    Go Adrian!!
  3. peacockaja

    peacockaja Member

    204 Messages
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    Is he the one who said he could outrun anybody on the cowboys.
  4. TxStar61

    TxStar61 New Member

    141 Messages
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    that line seems to ring a bell! I thought it strange at first..... Now with E George at the Helm...I think he could!!!!!!!! LOL :D ah shame on me!

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