Even the threat of the Swine Flu isn’t preventing college coaches from making their way over to San Antonio (Texas) East Central. That’s because big defensive tackle Torrea Peterson is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.
Scholarship offers from Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Illinois, Auburn, Arkansas, Colorado, and several others flooded the big 6-foot-3, 285-pounder’s mailbox in the early part of the spring.
Peterson was well aware of all of his overtures, or at least he thought he was, then one day he received a phone call from East Central head coach Robert Walker.
“It was kind of weird,” Peterson explained. “My coach asked me the next day after LSU came to school why I haven’t told anyone that LSU offered and I told him I didn’t even know they had. He said they offered when they came by and it was a nice surprise.”
Peterson received his verbal offer on a Thursday afternoon but it became official a few days later when a FedEx package was delivered with a letter from LSU head coach Les Miles outlining the details of the tender.
Peterson, who says he hasn’t yet spoken to anyone at LSU but his father has, admitted that he was surprised by the offer considering that he had received only minimal attention from LSU prior to that last Thursday in April. The surprise, however, had more to do with LSU than anything else.
“It’s kind of not uncommon because some of the schools that have offered me have gone just off my highlight tape or watching game film then all of a sudden they pop up and offer,” he said. “The surprise was that it was from LSU but not because I hadn’t been in contact with them. It was just LSU.”
In between learning more about the schools that are pursuing him and staying on top of his studies, Peterson has been working out harder than ever to strengthen his knee that he injured last season. An injury to his MCL sidelined him for four games and as a result he played in only six contests – four starts – and totaled 18 tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble.
The extra time in the weight room has paid large dividends for Peterson, who says he has maxed out at 405 pounds on the bench press and 520 on the squat.
When it comes to learning more about the schools that are trying to woo him, Peterson has some on the job experience as he’s visited Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas for unofficial visits. He said that he plans to head up to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this summer then return home and cut across to Baton Rouge for a trip to LSU.
Peterson says that he doesn’t know as much about LSU as he does with some of the other schools on his list, but he does know a thing or two about the Tigers.
“I know the 2009 recruiting class consisted of Russell Shepard and they’ve been winning national championships,” he said. “Going to bowl games for them is like nothing because it’s a good football team, and Les Miles is a good coach from what is said and what you see on TV.”
Peterson also knows about LSU’s history of sending players to the NFL and he can get position specific with defensive linemen getting drafted high in the first round the last two years such as Glenn Dorsey [5th overall in 2008] and Tyson Jackson [3rd overall in 2009].
That a school can point to having so much success at sending players to the professional level is a plus but it’s not the most important criteria on Peterson’s checklist.
“My dad tells me, and I know this is true, but you can turn pro anywhere,” he stated. “You can go to the smallest school in the world and someone will find you if you have talent. My focus is are they going to just use you for football and forget about your grades or are they going to make sure you get that degree then play some good football.”
Earning a degree in either U.S. History or African American Studies is one of Peterson’s goals along with playing football at the next level and beyond. He isn’t quite sure where he will pursue his first two objectives but there is a cluster of schools leading the pack.
“The Big 12 is kind of leading the pack right now with the schools I’ve been in contact with the most,” he said. “I haven’t really been to many campuses so I don’t have anyone that I’d say is my favorite at this point.”
Peterson acknowledged that the Big 12 schools he alluded to included Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech. He was also quick to point out that he isn’t limiting himself to schools in close proximity to home.
“It’d be nice to stay in state or close to home but if I plan on going to the next level after college I will be going far away from home so I’m not too worried about moving to a new area,” he said. “I know I can handle myself and I’ll take care of my business.”
Whether or not LSU can join the Big 12 party is something that Peterson hopes to get answered this summer.
“I’m going to be calling up and doing a conference call with LSU soon to talk to the coaches then I want to see the campus,” he said. “But LSU is a school that you take a look at and you definitely give them consideration. It’s just a matter of getting over there now.”
Peterson is expected to be a full academic qualifier and plans on making a decision on his college future before his senior season gets underway.