March, 20 2023
For a player such as Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson, his greatness became overtly obvious after witnessing him for 15 seconds in one single play. In the 1999 NCAA Division I-AA Championship game, today’s Football Championship Division, Georgia Southern was paired against Youngstown State. The two schools dominated the classification, both owning four previous championships. The winner would be the first to capture five titles.
Leading 24-14 midway through the second quarter, the Eagles had the ball on their own 28. On first down, Peterson took a hand-off from quarterback Greg Hill. Peterson ran through the left side of the line with a block by a pulling right guard freeing him to the GSU 30. Peterson then broke an arm tackle two yards downfield which sent him racing through the Youngstown secondary. Now in the open field, he ran for 26 yards until a defensive back attempted a high tackle at the YSU 42. There the defender slowed #3 enough to allow a second defender to climb on Peterson’s back at the 37. After carrying the two defenders for five more yards he spun and threw off the tacklers at the Youngstown 30. The fourth Youngstown player to confront the Walter Payton Award winner bounced off his legs at the 25. A straight arm and shove threw off the fifth Penguin at the YSU 23. A teammate’s block at the 20 gave Peterson some running room to the 15 yard line, where YSU defender number six was sent sprawling to the sideline. The 58-yard run finally concluded at the YSU 14 when one of his own teammates bumped him from behind as he was pulling free from a defender’s desperate grasp of an ankle.
Peterson’s unstoppable run in an equally unstoppable career should not come as a surprise - after all his father worked at a plant that made Energizer batteries. But it wasn’t just on the field where Peterson was unrelenting. Adrian struggled with speech and stuttering, but this would not deter him. “In school if I had to do a presentation, it might take me five minutes, ten minutes or even 30 minutes. But I got up there, stood strong and did it,” said the Hall of Famer.
After football, he has gone on to help others who also struggle with speech by traveling to schools, addressing children and publishing a book, Don’t Dis My Abilities.