With the projected departure of all three running backs currently on the Ohio State roster after the 2004-05 season, the search is on to add depth and have the heir apparent in the wings.
The Buckeyes will likely be picky in who they take this year at the running back position considering that whomever they take will likely be intended as the next feature back. They might limit their search to top shelf talents, and Adrian Peterson is considered just that type of player. A big, strong, lightning-quick back who could easily add 20 lbs to his current weight of 205 because of his 6'3" frame, he would be a great fit for a one back offense looking for a player to terrorize the opposition.
His coach, Jeff Harrell, is sold on the combination of Peterson's physical gifts. "I had him in track as a sophomore, he said. "He ran a 10.66 hundred meters at the state track meet. He was about 6'2" about 200 lbs. at that time. So he is big for a sprinter that fast. He ran a 10.50 at a regional qualifiers meet in Longview, Texas as a sophomore, and now he is 6'3", 205 and he can really run. He is just a big, tall - there is no body fat on him at all. He gets to the line of scrimmage in a hurry. We had to back him up. At times, he is seven and eight yards deep in the backfield. He reads where the zone block develops before he gets to the line of scrimmage.
"I don't know who compare him to in high school or college really. He is just a big, strong kid. I have film where he will run over the top of you and if he gets behind you he is hard to catch because he has that much speed. As far as I have seen, he is the biggest fastest guy that I have seen - with that size and that kind of speed. I have seen other guys that are faster and others that are bigger but having that combination of speed and size? I have not seen it in this part of Texas."
That is a very strong statement considering the talent of players in Texas. Bear in mind that Palestine is in the same general region as Longview and Tyler - both of whom regularly turn out some serious prospects.
Last year, Peterson carried the ball 246 times, rushing for 2,051 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had only 3 receptions for 27 yards and one touchdown (more on that in a minute), and Adrian only played portions of his team's first 5 games. Apparently, several of the early contests were out of reach for the opposition early and because of that, in a classy move, Coach Harrell sat Adrian and some others to try and keep the scores down.
The kicker here - and reason more passes were not thrown Adrian's way - is that he injured a ligament in his right hand in the third game. "He missed one whole game having surgery on his thumb," Harrell remarked. "Then he played the rest of the year with a cast on that right hand, and he is a right-handed kid. He carried the ball in his left hand - 246 times - and he only fumbled it 6 times. He can catch. I did not throw the ball to him much because he had that big huge cast on his hand."
Adrian described the exercise carrying the football in his left hand. "It was hard running with my left hand because I was used to my right hand," he said. "It felt funny - like running backwards."
Some of the teams Palestine played probably wished he actually would run backwards…
A sprinter for his track team (last year he placed second in the 100 and third in the 200 in the regionals), Adrian would actually prefer to bull his way down the field. When asked about what he considers his greatest strength, his reply was immediate: "Power. Most backs like to run around (tacklers). I am just used to running people over. Ever since I played in little league, I am used to running people over. That is really my style of running."
He so relishes the physical style of play that he believes it is something he should improve upon next year. He wants to get in the habit of occasionally "trying to run around (tacklers). I can do it. I just would rather try to run people over. I have to work on that and not try to run everybody over."
Off the field, Adrian appears to be on the right track as well. He is a mannerly player with solid support in the home, and Coach Harrell considers his work ethic to be "really good. I have not had one ounce of trouble with the kid since I have had him. I have a great relationship with him. He does exactly what I tell him to. He does not question things. He works hard. I think he is just a real nice kid. He is a real happy kid. He is not a moody; he has a smile on his face every day, and I have really enjoyed working with him."
Though some have not yet taken any of the standardized tests necessary to qualify as a freshman, Adrian has already received a passing score. "I took the ACT," he said. "I made a 19 on it. I am going to take it again and see if I can try and do better."
So long as he continues to maintain that attitude and work in the classroom, those who recruit him will not have to pine over whether or not he will be eligible, and academics will be important in his choice of colleges. He wants to major in some type of business and is looking for "Somewhere I can go and have a good career in football and academics."
Lest we forget Football is a game: "I have liked it since I was little. It is just fun to go out there. To work together as a team with friends - I like that. It is fun, but when it is time to go to work then you go to work and have fun afterwards."
Early leaders for Adrian: "Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Texas right now"
Any set date for Committing? "No sir, not yet. I want to keep my options open."
Adrian on Camps this summer: "I was planning on it, but I might go to summer school and get some classes out of the way. It would make my senior year a little easier. I might not have time. If I don't (go to summer school) I will probably go to the university of Texas and probably Texas A&M."
Adrian's most recent award (in basketball): "I got district defensive player of the year. I played the three - power forward."
Hobbies for this 3-sport player: "Eat and sleep."
Adrian on his Greatest Accomplishment: "Getting my name out there. Doing good and making my mom and dad happy."
Size and Stats: 6'2"-6'3" (and still growing). 4.43 in the 40 timed at the Texas A&M camp last year.