Peterson Ready to Run Wild

The buzz around Annapolis may be over the bevy of talented defensive players the Mids are bringing into the program as part of the 2010 recruiting class, but coach Niumatalolo's potent triple option offense should be in capable hands during the years to come thanks in part to recent commits like Washington prep star Cody Peterson.

When Olympia (Wash.) Black Hills running back Cody Peterson committed to the Navy Academy last week, Navy fans had good reason to be excited. After all, Peterson's high school resume is chalk full of accomplishments. A three-time All-State performer at running back, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound slasher ran for an almost unheard 2,138 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season. Showing quick feet, dynamic vision, and a second gear which allowed him to average nearly 6.8 yards a carry in 2009, Peterson carved up opposing defenses like a knife through butter.

It didn't take long for in-state programs to catch on to such dynamic talent, with FCS power Eastern Washington extending a scholarship offer to Peterson during his senior year of high school, and the University of Washington following suit by offering him a position as a preferred walk-on. But Peterson had other college plans in mind, plans that were only solidified when he tuned into ESPN on a sunny Saturday in early September.

"[It was] against Ohio State this year," said Peterson when asked to recall when his attraction to Navy first became serious. "When I first saw them play on TV I knew I wanted to play there. The Navy ‘winning' tradition puts them above the other service Academies."

An exceptional student who carries a 3.8 GPA in addition to numerous school and state rushing records, Peterson soon looked into the Academy in more detail. He came away impressed with the Annapolis institution, which soon became his leading school during his recruitment.

"What initially attracted me were the opportunities available at the Academy, which are second to none, and the players and coaches are people of honor and integrity," said Peterson. "Academics are very important to me. I have always put forth as much effort into schoolwork as athletics."

Peterson was nothing short of unstoppable during his career at Black Hills, amassing 5,822 yards and 64 touchdowns in three years of starting duty. While the relatively out-of-the-way location of his school scared some programs away, Navy's coaches – including west coach recruiting coordinator Steve Johns – saw in Peterson a versatile back with the power and quickness to transition into the ‘B,' or fullback, position in Navy's spread option offense. While Black Hills' offense ran a different version of the spread based more from "Pistol" sets, the Annapolis bound Peterson said he is excited to transition into Navy's run-first style of offense.

"It's an exciting opportunity and it makes me feel like I'll be a part of something great," Peterson said of the chance to play in Navy's vaunted offense, which has produced two fullbacks in Kyle Eckel and Eric Kettani who have gone on to NFL camps.

He continued, saying, "I think I will adapt well to the offense because it is similar to what my high school runs. We run a spread option out of the shotgun…but as far as reading the defense, pitch relationships, and inside zone plays, my job won't be too different; except for the 3-point stance."

Peterson's style of running could best be described as "all purpose." While his size would indicate he has the ability to be a traditional ‘bruiser,' his quick feet and lateral quickness will remind many Navy fans of former fullback Eric Kettani. A fundamentally sound receiver out of the backfield as well, some have compared Peterson's highlight film to that of one of last year's signees, running back Matt Warrick. Still, the Washington native doesn't get too technical when describing his on-field performance, saying that while he admires many past professional and collegiate backs, he doesn't try to run in any way besides what comes naturally.

"I watch film on players like LT, Peterson, Walter Payton, and other great ones. But I don't model my game after just one player," said Peterson.

One of the reasons Peterson was not more heavily recruited out of high school was because of a knee injury he sustained during the spring between his junior and senior year. The injury precluded him from participating in any camps or combines, and likely cost him several scholarship offers from western programs. Despite the setback, Peterson made it back in time for his senior season, and doesn't sweat the lack of exposure now that he's committed to Navy.

"My area doesn't get recruited much by big schools and I had a knee injury this spring so I couldn't go to any camps," explained Peterson. "I planned on serving in the military anyway so it works out…I've wanted to be in Navy or the marines. I'm proud of my country and I'd like to serve something greater than myself."

"And it beats a desk job," he added, laughing.

Peterson will enter the Naval Academy as a direct-entry recruit. The running back, who has 4.6 second speed in the 40-yard dash, said that he believes Navy has put together a strong recruiting class in 2010 and hopes that it will translates into success on the field. For now though, he's enjoying his commitment, and is "looking forward to being a part of Navy tradition and contributing to more bowl wins."

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