Michael left home early on Thursday morning but by lunchtime Mr. Peterson, who had some loose ends to tie up at work first before making his flight, had already received several positive text messages from his son telling him about his trip. Father and son are the only ones from the Peterson household to make this trip this time. Michael's mother, Marlene, saw the Tech campus around July when the family first made an unofficial visit to the Atlanta campus. So she's already had the tour and Mr. Peterson said, "They did a great job with us," and was initially impressed with the people at Tech.
But the coaching change at Boston College is what really got all of this into motion. It has made for a wild finish to the recruiting process for the Peterson family. "It's obviously been a whirlwind as you can imagine," said Mr. Peterson. "We've been very blessed and fortunate that the types of schools that have recruited him are schools that I think are high quality, high caliber and they stress academics as much as they do their athletic programs."
Before the recent changes, the Petersons were very comfortable with the idea of having Michael in the Boston area. It is a special place for Pete and Marlene as Mr. Peterson describes it, "My wife and I met there 22 years ago right out of college, we loved the area and so did Michael."
Things change though and Boston will no longer be the destination for Michael. Michael actually took his official visit to BC just two weeks ago. He had a visit set up previously but ended up being the same weekend Coach O'Brien left so that visit was cancelled. "All of a sudden they had a coaching change in December and a lot of schools that had backed off of him all of a sudden started to surface again," said Peterson. "We started to hear from other schools and Georgia Tech happened to be one of them because they were recruiting him heavily at the beginning of the year. As fate would have it, he started to receive offers from those schools. So Vandy got into the mix and then recently Georgia Tech and Clemson, in the last week or so, got into the mix of recruiting and making him offers."
With some tough decisions to make now, Michael risked losing the Boston College scholarship to entertain the idea of attending one of these other schools. His parents were there for him though to offer advice and guidance. Said Mr. Peterson, "I told Michael, 'It's your decision to make and your mom and dad are there to support you and to help give you some direction in terms of what to look for in a school. But this decision will impact you the rest of your life, there's no question about it. It will potentially determine what line of work that you'll be doing for the next 30 or 40 years and potentially who your soul mate is. So, you look at everything, not just the athletics and academics but also the intangibles including the social aspects and make sure it's something you feel comfortable with.'"
From the sounds of things, Georgia Tech is now the prohibitive favorite to land Michael in this final week before signing day. In the final analysis it comes down to Tech or Clemson. "Certainly Clemson is still actively pursuing him and we're appreciative of their interest but at this stage we wanted to see someone who's been there from the beginning, so to speak," said Peterson. "And things just worked out for a reason. I think this worked out perfectly for Michael and we couldn't be happier for him."
So is it a done deal for Tech? Well, almost. "Unless something wacky, crazy happens, which anything can happen, but I don't foresee anything," said Peterson. "But that's the reason I'm going, just to make sure we walk out of there with an agreement. And they pretty much told him, 'we're saving this for you.'" With a quiet period beginning on Saturday and Signing Day on Wednesday, the Yellow Jackets don't have plans to pursue any other players if Michael gets away. "This is either Michael's or they're going to pretty much eat it," said Peterson. "So, we respect that and certainly we're appreciative of that."
Michael, who as a freshman in high school was the only one in his grade to make the varsity team, is being recruited to GT by linebacker coach Brian Jean-Marie.
Since writing the above piece from a Thursday conversation with Pete Peterson, I have just spoken with Mr. Peterson again and he has updated the situation. Michael and his father went to dinner last night with 4 or 5 coaches. Mr. Peterson said, "In fact we just left breakfast with Coach Gailey and had a good time there as well. So, things are going really well so far. And today he's meeting with the academic advisers at the Management school there, which is probably what Michael's going to major in. So far everything's going really well."
The end of the recruiting process could come sometime today according to Michael's father. "Michael wants to try and make a final decision here today and so he can go into the weekend and feel good about it as well as let the schools know," said Peterson. "More than likely he's going to cancel his trip up to Clemson anyway. So I think he's going to make a decision here in the next 24 hours if not sooner."