You know the stories that follow Jason Peter as people try
to get others to understand just what kind of impact he made. And while much of
it had to do with his ability, former defensive coordinator for Nebraska Charlie
McBride calling him the best interior lineman he's ever had, much of the praise
was pointed toward his attitude.
It was an uncompromising attitude, which said that he was going to give nothing less than everything he had and if you had better do the same. If you were on his team and didn't, you probably weren't going to like the outcome.
It would seem that regardless of the time, area code and job description, Peter's mentality stands pat.
"Oh man is he intense," Two-way lineman Martin Coleman said of Peter. "He's a great guy and the players all love him, but yeah, he can get really intense."
Jason Peter's intensity was legendary at Nebraska
That's a heck of a coach to have for your first year of football, coming from Tonga, knowing next to nothing about the game, your only background in anything similar stemming from your time playing Rugby.
You get introduced to your first position coach and he's a former All-American and a first round pick in the NFL Draft.
It's not Peter's resume, though, that impresses Martin when he steps on to the field. "Everything I know about playing defense I learned from him," Martin said of Peter. "He's out there and if you aren't playing well, he'll let you hear about it."
"I remember lots of times you can hear him yelling at us to tackle someone or basically just get off of our lazy butts. But after that, he's there for you and he's like one of our best friends."
As Peter has watched Coleman develop in the short time, playing both sides of the line, the days have been mostly of practice, but sometimes of conversations about when Peter played the game.
One of Nebraska's most successful interior linemen ever, Coleman has heard plenty about the Huskers and about the tradition that Peter was very much a part of for four years. "The tradition they have there is something else," Martin said. "You see all those awards, the national titles and all that, you know that would be a great place to be."
"I know coach Peter, just the thought of me playing defensive line there, that really gets him going."
It gets Coleman going too, loving to hear about anything to do with the game, which involves the words "physical", "hitting" and "pain."
Like Apiata Tuihalamaka, a fellow resident of California and recruit of the Huskers, the best thing Martin likes about playing football versus Rugby are the pads that don't protect the other guy, but himself instead. "Hey, you hit someone in Rugby, sometimes that hurts you almost as much as it does them," he said. "But in football, you got all those pads on – man, you can just unload."
"That's what I like to do. It's just great to really get out there and hammer someone into the ground. I just love contact."
It shouldn't be considered a coincidence that Coleman's first official visit is going to take place at Nebraska, somewhere in the month of September. It's darn early for anyone to schedule their official visits, but Coleman didn't see the need to wait. He plans on visiting Nebraska, but he plans on visiting Miami (Florida) as well, though, that one hasn't been scheduled as of yet.
You can throw in a camp visit to USC, plus Coleman said that he's pretty interested in the University of Hawaii and you might not be surprised at the reason. "I miss the food," Martin said of his favorite Tongan dishes he's not had since coming to the United States, which include Lu and Topai, both recipes which include Coconut Milk, the most popular ingredient in Tongan food. "I miss the Islands, basically, and everyone there, but I really miss the food."
For someone 6 foot, 6 inches tall and just a shade under 300 pounds, food is going to be a big deal. But Martin insists that ultimately it won't be his stomach that will do the talking. "The academics mean a lot to me, because I want to get a degree," he said. "And I just want to play and have fun."
What Coleman doesn't have, at least right now, when it comes to his criteria is something that most kids in this country can't say: A predisposition of who his favorite teams are
Having only been in the country for a year, there are no favorites. In fact, Martin says that he knows next to nothing about the culture of America, much less who its college football teams are. "I'm just learning all that stuff, because it's all really new to me, at least living here," he said. "My dad (who is American) has parents who live in Sidney, Nebraska, but I don't know a lot about everything around here."
"I'm picking all of that up from people like my family and my coaches like coach Peter and I know I will learn a lot more as I live here longer."
From a Husker perspective, at least for the fans, there are plenty of connections that make this native of Tonga almost an honorary member of the big red. Whether or not that will be official in the future, only time will tell. Aside from the visits, Nebraska's offer is joined by Oregon State, Utah, Ole Miss and most recently Arizona and Arizona State.
Coleman is liking the choices, but right now he's just overwhelmed that he has so many choices to make. "Dude, all this has me so pumped," he said. "Only being here a year, only playing football a year and already getting all this attention – it's a pretty crazy thing."
"I'm loving it, but I know I have to be smart about it, because this is about my future here in this country. It's a lot of fun, though. I am having a lot of fun."