This January Georgia Southern’s own Adrian Peterson, who played at the school from 1998-2001, was accepted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Peterson carries a legacy of dominance and grit on the football field and a life now dedicated to helping others. For some the induction seemed long overdue and the numbers and records he holds certainly don’t lie.
According to ESPN and the Georgia Southern athletics website, Peterson was a recipient of The Walter Payton Award in 1999 as the most outstanding offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, previously Division 1-AA). As a Georgia Southern Eagle he was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2012, at the time holding 30 school and playoff football records.
Peterson was also inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame in 2009 and is known to have broken or tied 45 records during his college career (16 GS, 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association, and 15 Southern Conference). His time in the FCS was characterized by prolific offensive performances as he was a four-time All-American, had 48 consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards, and is the all-time Division 1 rushing leader in regular season games with 6,559 career yards.
Upon hearing that he was selected to join the elite group of athletes and coaches in this year’s class, including quarter back Peyton Manning and linebacker Brian Urlacher, Peterson shared his excitement.
“I was ecstatic,” Peterson said. “I knew I was a nominee, but when you look at the list of guys and especially because you never judge yourself on your individual accomplishments, it was a huge honor.”
Since he began playing at the age of six, Peterson said that football has given him the structure, hard work and discipline in his life that helped him excel.
“In football, you learn that things aren’t always going to go your way. The game of football is kind of like life, there’s four quarters,” Peterson said. “You know sometimes you don’t do well in the first quarter, if you keep struggling into the second quarter at half-time you make adjustments. The third quarter you get better and you save the best for last.”
As a two-time all-state and all-area football selection at Santa Fe High School in Alachua, Florida he would go on to rush for nearly 5,000 career yards and be awarded All-American honors by ESPN. When Georgia Southern came calling, Peterson answered and the program would never be the same. Reminiscing about his time at GS, Peterson and fans alike look back and remember the good times and the winning.
Peterson running all over Youngstown State in the 1999 1-AA championship game in route to a 59-24 Georgia Southern victory.
“We won a lot of football games. My first goal as a team player is winning. When you win and you score I think everybody can agree it’s a whole lot funner [sic]. I had a ton of fun in college, at Georgia Southern, life is a lot simpler and a lot more easygoing in college,” Peterson said, remembering his time at the school.
After leading the Eagles to two national championships and three straight title game appearances at Georgia Southern, Peterson declared for the NFL draft after graduation. The Chicago Bears selected him in the sixth round of the 2002 draft and he would spend the next eight seasons with the team. After being out of professional football since 2011, he now devotes his time to motivational speaking and his organization, the Adrian Peterson Foundation, to helping children and adults with speech impediments.
Feature image courtesy of WSAV.