Blessed with a perfect blend of size, speed, strength and field vision, the most decorated runner in Texas high school football continued to have great success at the collegiate level. Even playing for a school known for its storied history of running the football, Peterson etched his name into the Oklahoma record books numerous times during his short career with the Sooners.
Despite injury problems in his three seasons at Oklahoma (dislocated left shoulder, right high ankle sprain, broken right clavicle), Peterson became the first player in school history to eclipse 3,000 rushing yards in two seasons. He ranks second in school history with 747 rushing attempts (sixth in Big Twelve Conference annals), third with 4,045 rushing yards (fifth in conference history) and fourth with 41 touchdowns rushing. His 4,401 all-purpose yards are third on Oklahoma's all-time record list.
Peterson was a consensus National Player of the Year as a senior at Palestine High School. College Football News and Rivals.com rated him the best player in the prep ranks. Prep Star's National Offensive Player of the Year was also a first-team All-State choice.
He rushed for 2,960 yards on 252 attempts, an average of 11.7 yards per carry, and 32 touchdowns as a senior in 2003. He finished his junior season with 2,051 yards on 246 carries, an average of 8.3 yards per carry, and 22 scores. A talented athlete, he also competed in track-and-field and basketball.
Peterson announced that he would enroll at Oklahoma after rushing for two touchdowns in the 2003 U.S. Army High School All-American Game, leading the West squad with 95 yards on only nine carries. He would make an immediate impact on the collegiate scene for the Sooners in 2004. He finished second in the Heisman balloting, the highest ever by a freshman, and finished third in the voting for the Maxwell Award (player of the year).
That year, Peterson was a consensus All-American -- the first OU freshman to earn that honor. He was also the first freshman since Dre Bly in 1996 to be named to the Associated Press All-American squad, and the first freshman to be a Doak Walker Award finalist. He led the nation and set an NCAA freshman record with 339 rushing attempts (third highest in OU history) and ranked third nationally with 1,925 rushing yards (5.7 avg). He had 1,365 yards after contact, 71 percent of his net.
Peterson broke the OU single-season rushing record set in 1978 by Billy Sims (1,896) and the NCAA freshman record set in 1996 by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (1,863). He also set the NCAA freshman marks for consecutive 100-yard rushing games (nine) and total 100-yard rushing games (11). His 11 total 100-yard games ranked second at OU (Quentin Griffin had 12 in 2002) and he also tied the NCAA freshman record for reaching 1,000 yards in the fewest games (seven) with Emmitt Smith (Florida, 1987) and Marshall Faulk (San Diego State, 1991). All that production came despite playing most of that season with a dislocated left shoulder suffered in fall practice that would require surgery after the season.
A right high ankle sprain limited Peterson's playing time in 2005. He missed the Baylor game and was sat out more than two quarters in each of four other games. Peterson still rushed for 1,108 yards and 14 touchdowns on 220 carries (5.1 avg) and averaged 104.91 all-purpose yards per game, but it was clear he was not the same back as his freshman season.
A right collarbone fracture would sideline Peterson for the team's final seven regular season games in 2006, but he still earned All-Big Twelve Conference first-team honors. He managed his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, picking up 1,012 yards with 12 touchdowns on 188 attempts (5.4 avg). He also showed solid receiving and return skills, making 10 catches for 136 yards and a score while returning seven kickoffs for 162 yards (23.1 avg). He raked in an average of 187.14 all-purpose yards per game.
In 31 games at Oklahoma, Peterson ranks second in school annals with 747 carries and finished third in OU history with 4,045 yards on the ground (5.4 avg). He scored 41 times rushing and added 24 receptions for 198 yards (8.3 avg) and a score.
He gained 162 yards on seven kickoff returns (23.1 avg) and finished third on the school career record list with 4,401 all-purpose yards (141.96 ypg). His 252 points scored rank fifth among non-kickers and ninth overall in Oklahoma history. He finished second in OU annals with 22 100-yard and six 200-yard rushing performances, but also turned the ball over six times on 17 fumbles.
Positives: Has a thick, defined chest, shoulders and arms, a tight waist, good bubble, thick thighs and calves with room on his frame to add more bulk...Possesses impressive strength, outstanding balance and quickness with that uncanny vision and awareness to quickly find the holes...Has the hip snap to easily change direction and shift gears, generating a sudden burst out of his cuts...His feet and body control enable him to pick his way through trash, and he keeps his feet after contact...Has the loose hips to make the initial tackler miss and is very good at anticipating the opponent's moves (gained 71 percent of his yardage after initial contact)...Excellent block reader who immediately sees the hole develop, and it is rare to see him makes his cuts too early...Tough runner who is very hard to bring down once he builds to top speed...Likes to lower his head and drive through with his legs after contact, but also has the agility to bounce off tackles and redirect rather than trying to overpower the opponent constantly (used to try to run over guys earlier in his career, but used cutback lanes more often in 2006)....His quick cutting skills mean he doesn't have to gear down to change direction...Can drop his pads and shift gears quickly, maintaining that burst through his cuts...Quick to attack the inside holes and has the acceleration to separate once he clears the trash...Has that natural feel for the holes, quickly anticipating the opening...Has also shown the patience to set up and use his blockers...Started running with pitter-patter steps in 2006, as it allowed him to maintain body control to slide through the holes...Shifts gears naturally and can make crisp cuts to turn and head up field...When he keeps his pads low, he punishes the defender and can move the pile...Has the balance to stay up on his feet after contact and will lower his head or bounce off tackles to compete for extra yardage...His strength is evident when he sticks his hat into the defender, and he has also developed into a decent cut blocker, showing effectiveness to face up and stone when working in space...His deceptive leg thrusts lets him bounce off the opponent while maintaining top speed...Has good lateral quickness and fluid pick-and-slide agility.
Negatives: Looks natural running with the ball in his hands, but needs to be more conscious of protecting it, as most of his 17 fumbles came after he hit the ground...Has a lot of Eddie George in him, as he seems to be too erect in his stride taking the ball up the middle, but he has the lower leg strength to break tackles and is effective at lowering his shoulder to move the pile...Will sometimes revert to trying to run over the opponent, but considering his two bad shoulders and chronic ankle problems, he is better served trying to escape rather than overpower...Even when running at full speed, he knows how to use his blockers, but ball security rears its ugly head when he fails to square up on contact...Shows the make-you-miss burst in the open, but will sometimes take a side...Has very good balance and runs with powerful strides, but loses his power base at times when he gets too upright in his stance...Needs route refinement, as he has the quickness to separate underneath, but it was rare to see him run intermediate or long patterns...Needs to do a better job of eyeing the ball on pitch-outs...Seems to let the ball get into his body too much and will double catch it (just an adequate safety valve working underneath).
Compares To: DEUCE McALLISTER-New Orleans...McAllister is a much better receiver, but both are blessed with exceptional size and speed. Peterson is a punishing runner, but might be best served trying to avoid defenders rather than overpower them, considering that he has had several big injuries that have affected his play. He runs more like Eddie George between the tackles, getting too tall in his stance, but with his lower body power it is evident he can break tackles, gaining 71 percentage of his yardage after initial contact.
Peterson ranks third in school history with 4,045 yards rushing, topped only by Billy Sims (4,118 yards, 1975-79) and Joe Washington (4,071, 1972-75)...Became the fifth player in Big Twelve Conference history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career, joining Cedric Benson of Texas (5,540; 2001-04), Ricky Williams of Texas (5,289; 1996-98), Darren Sproles of Kansas State (4,979; 2001-04) and Brad Smith of Missouri (4,289; 2002-05)...His 747 carries are surpassed only by Steve Owens (958, 1967-69) in school annals and rank sixth on the Big Twelve's career-record list behind Cedric Benson (1,112), Ricky Williams (845), Darren Davis of Iowa State (823, 1996-99), Darren Sproles of Kansas State (815, 2001-04) and Brad Smith (799)...Ran for over 100 yards 22 times during his career, one short of the school-record 23 by Steve Owens (1967-69) and two shy of the Big Twelve all-time record of 24 by Texas' Ricky Williams...His six 200-yard rushing performances rank second in school annals behind Billy Sims (7, 1975-79)...Peterson's 4,401 all-purpose yards rank fourth on the school's all-time record list, topped only by Joe Washington (5,881; 1972-75), Quentin Griffin (5,275; 1999-02) and Greg Pruitt (4,431; 1970-72)...His 1,925 yards rushing in 2004 set a school season-record, breaking the previous mark of 1,896 yard by Billy Sims in 1978...Only Troy Davis of Iowa State (2,185 in 1996), Ricky Williams of Texas (2,124 in 1998), Byron Hanspard of Texas Tech (2,084 in 1996) and Darren Sproles of Kansas State (1,986 in 2003) ran for more yards in a season in Big Twelve Conference history...His 339 carries in 2004 rank third on the school's season-record list, topped only by Steve Owens (358 in 1969 and 393 in 1968)...Peterson's 41 touchdowns rushing rank fourth in school history behind Steve Owens (57), Billy Sims (53) and Quentin Griffin (44, 1999-2002)...His eleven 100-yard rushing performances in 2004 are topped only by Griffin's 12 in 2002 on the Oklahoma season-record list and his three 200-yard rushing efforts in 2004 ranks behind Billy Sims' four in 1978 on the Sooners' record books...Gained 1,937 all-purpose yards in 2004, the third-best season total in school history behind Quentin Griffin (2,148 in 2002) and Greg Pruitt (2,066 in 1971)...Adrian's 249 yards rushing vs. Oklahoma State in 2004 is the eighth-best game total in school history and the most by a Sooner since De'Mond Parker totaled 291 yards vs. Texas in 1997.
All-American Dream Team selection by The NFL Draft Report...All-Big Twelve Conference first-team choice from the league's coaches, despite missing the team's final seven regular season games after he suffered a broken left clavicle after tumbling into the end zone on a touchdown run in the Iowa State clash...Semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award (nation's top running back) and Maxwell Award (nation's top offensive player)...Did not play in the required amount of games to qualify for NCAA national rankings (must play in 75% of his team's games), but Peterson's average of 144.57 yards per game rushing would have placed him second in the Division 1-A ranks behind Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois (148.31 ypg)...His average of 187.14 all-purpose yards per game would have topped Wolfe's Division 1-A leading mark of 167.46 yards...Despite missing seven contests, he led the team in rushing for the third-straight year, as he also rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third consecutive campaign...Carried 188 times for 1,012 yards (5.4 avg) and twelve touchdowns...Caught ten passes for 136 yards (13.6 avg) and a score...Returned seven kickoffs for 162 yards (23.1 avg) and amassed 1,310 all-purpose yards...Ran for at least 100 yards in each of his first six games, including a season-high 211 vs. Oregon...Turned the ball over twice on three fumbles.
Consensus All-Big Twelve Conference first-team selection, despite missing the Baylor game and more than two quarters in each of the Kansas State, Texas and Kansas contests with a right high ankle sprain that he originally suffered in August camp...Still managed to gain 1,108 yards with fourteen touchdowns on 220 carries (5.1 avg)...Grabbed nine passes
For 50 yards (5.6 avg)...Scored 84 points and totaled 1,154 all-purpose yards, an average of 104.91 yards per game...Turned the ball over four times on seven fumbles...Ran for over 100 yards in five contests, including 220 yards vs. Tulsa and a season-high 237 in the Oklahoma State clash.
2004: Dislocated his left shoulder in fall drills and re-injured it several times during the season, requiring surgery in January 2005.
2005: Bothered all season by a chronic right high ankle sprain that eventually forced him to miss the Baylor game (10/22) and more than two quarters of action in each of the Kansas State (10/01), Texas (10/08) and Kansas (10/15) contests.
2006: Suffered a left collarbone fracture vs. Iowa State (10/14), sitting out the next seven contests vs. Colorado, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Nebraska.
Campus: 4.37 in the 40-yard dash...345-pound bench press...530-pound squat...37-inch vertical jump...32 1/4-inch arm length...9 1/2-inch hands.
Attended Palestine (Tex.) High School, playing football for head coach Jerry Harrell...Consensus National Player of the Year as a senior...College Football News and Rivals.com rated him the best player in the prep ranks...Prep Star's National Offensive Player of the Year was also a first-team All-State choice...Rushed for 2,960 yards on 252 attempts, an average of 11.7 yards per carry, and 32 touchdowns as a senior in 2003...Finished his junior year with 2,051 yards on 246 carries, an average of 8.3 yards per carry, and 22 scores...Also competed in track and field and basketball.
Sociology major...Son of Bonita Jackson and Nelson Peterson...Born 3/21/85...Resides in Palestine, Texas.