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Even after all these years, Southern's AP is still the real Adrian Peterson for many

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POSTED: October 3, 2012 5:00 a.m.

I was talking to some guy about football the other day and the topic turned to great running backs. I said Adrian Peterson was one of the best I’d ever seen and he agreed, but then I said “too bad he never made it big in the NFL” and this other guy said “What? He’s a pro bowler with the Vikings” and I then realized that we were talking about two different Adrian Petersons.

Yep, that was a long sentence.

Anyway, I digress. The Adrian Peterson I’m referring to is the one just inducted into the Georgia Southern University Hall of Fame. And then I recalled that it’s been more than a decade since the last time AP toted the football for the Eagles and there are probably millions of folks living here now who weren’t here back then.

So, I thought I’d introduce AP to them. If it’s a reintroduction to some of you, well, enjoy. Peterson was the greatest college football player I ever saw in person.

First, here’s what the folks atGeorgiaSouthern’s media relations department put out about Peterson in a press release on the Hall of Fame induction:

Perhaps the greatest football player in the history of Georgia Southern Athletics…..led Eagles to two national championships and three consecutive title game appearances…..currently leads FCS career records in sixteen different categories including career TDs (84), most games with 100 or more rushing yards (40), most yards gained by a freshman in a season in 1998 (1,932), TDs scored by a freshman (1998), and is the NCAA Division I all-time leading rusher with 6,559 yards in regular season contests….holds 30 school and playoff records…..recipient of the 1999 Walter Payton Award….. ….inducted as a member of the inaugural Southern Conference Hall of Fame class in 2009…….broke or tied 45 records (16 GSU, 14 NCAA, 15 SoCon) in 1998….

Four-time All-American.

Now, a few things worth noting about the above stats: Peterson ran for 100 or more yards in every game he started until his senior season. I forget who broke the streak. Might’ve been Appalachian State.

Second, when you factor in the rushing yards AP gained in the playoffs (which are now counted by the NCAA, by the way, but weren’t when AP ran), he gained more than 9,144 yards in his career, had 54 games where he rushed for more than 100 yards and 12 games in which he finished with more than 200 yards.

At one point, as Statesboro Herald correspondent Mike Brown noted in a story about the induction ceremony, Peterson set or held 118 NCAA, Southern Conference andGeorgiaSouthern records. One of those records was the school record 333 yards he piled up againstMassachusettsin a 1999 playoff game.

But those don’t tell the whole story of AP, who went on to a solid but unspectacular nine-year career in the NFL with the Chicago Bears – and I’m still convinced that had he wound up with a warm weather team such as Jacksonville, AP would have fared much better.

Nope. Stats don’t tell you that Peterson is as beloved as figure atGeorgiaSouthern as any I’ve seen, and that includes the great Erk Russell. Part of that was due to his onfield success, no doubt. But much of it was due to Peterson’s friendly personality and his determination to overcome his speech impediment.

He stuttered, you see. Badly. The first time I heard him say a word was early in his freshman year after a game and we were all wondering who this running back was who just made an opponent look silly. It was painful to hear him struggle to get out a word, then another.

But AP, the only player in FCS to finish in the top three in voting for the Walter Payton Award all four years he played, didn’t let that stop him. He improved as a speaker, got better at it as he matured. But he still stutters. And, as Brown noted in his story, he still uses his story to inspire others.

“’I have a speech impediment,’ Peterson recently told a gathering of youngsters at a Boys & Girls Club event in Statesboro. ‘No matter where you’re from, where you go to school or what color you are, you can make it. It’s not easy, but if it was easy everyone would do it.’”

Peterson recently released his autobiography, “Don’t Dis My Abilities.” It’s available now at theGeorgiaSouthern bookstore for $23.95 and a portion of the proceeds will help fund a scholarship at GSU.

If you haven’t seen him run, Google Adrian Peterson Georgia Southern. There are plenty of versions of “The Run” and “Sun of the Run” available on Youtube.

And here’s the link to a video put together by Bulloch Headline News ofDelete-Merge Upbodycopy

“the real Adrian Peterson.”

Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp_ABmN-sMU

 

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