Peters decision huge for UH
LET'S hope Leonard Peters' knee really is fully healed. It sounds like the man is going to have to be able to carry a lot of weight.
When we last saw the Hawaii free safety he was a guy we were hoping might have an outstanding senior year. Now, suddenly, a whole season is on him.
By the time the NCAA ruled this week that the UH senior could play next season -- his sixth at UH, in effect granting him a second redshirt year, after he missed all but a few minutes of last season thanks to that bum knee -- that decision had reached monumental status. It sounded like the UH coaches were ready to either run down the street in celebration or run down the street looking for a truck to throw themselves in front of, depending which way the call went.
You could almost imagine Jerry Glanville perched at his office window ready to launch himself out onto Cooke Field if the news came back bad.
Having Peters back is huge, no doubt. He's just the kind of guy you want around your team. Nobody loves football more than he does. Few people have as much fun. He's smart. And he's fast. Wow, is he fast.
Like I said, the last time we saw him we were all hoping he'd put it all together and have a good senior year.
All indications are that he probably will.
And if he does, all kinds of things fall into place.
But hold on. We're losing our minds a little. It's good to be happy, but I hope Peters is ready, because we've already put the weight of the world on the shoulders of this one guy.
In last season's first game Peters almost caught Reggie Bush (Bush would go on to say some nice things about "No. 42" in one of those online chats). And then he got injured, out for the year.
And then he was on Mount Rushmore. The longer he was out the bigger he got.
As UH went 5-7, he became legendary in his absence.
Every time there was a long run, Leonard would have stuffed it at the line.
Every time a pass was completed, Peters would have knocked it away.
Every time Hawaii had a defensive breakdown, their missing safety would have had them lined up right.
In 2004, his junior season, Peters had had an up-and-down year, which was pretty good, considering the defense itself definitely had a down one (No. 116 in the country, statistically).
He made some mistakes, had a handful of great plays. As a safety the spotlight is always on you, and even casual fans notice, for both good and bad. A lot of times stuff isn't the safety's fault -- he's just the last man standing, the only guy left to give chase.
Two of his most memorable moments came in Hawaii's most forgettable games. Peters not quite punching the ball away from a Fresno State running back, who kept right on chugging down the sideline on the way to 70-14. And at Boise, Jared Zabransky running away from him for an 85-yard score.
But as that 2004 season went on Peters began to show more and more, and by the end of the year even those who had been frustrated by his potential began to say to themselves this guy might become a heck of a player after all.
As Dave Reardon noted the other day, it was Peters who had the interception that sealed the win against Northwestern during UH's final bowl run.
That's where we left it. Optimistic. But still a long way from All-WAC. Hopeful for a breakout senior year.
Then Glanville showed up, and he noticed Peters immediately. His personality. The great attitude. The intelligence. That speed. Glanville raved. In his new system, this guy was going to be a star.
We shouldn't be surprised that Glanville would project greatness on a player (that's probably where June Jones got it from). We've all projected greatness on Peters through the years. Last season we were thinking there was a chance it would finally come true.
Then he went out in that first game, last year, against USC, made a few tackles, got hurt. And that's where we are. That's what this is, still. Projection.
The more time he missed the better he became. The longer the NCAA took to make up its mind the more momentous the decision was.
What we do know is that he's smart, fast, enthusiastic, charismatic, dedicated, tough. You won't find a better captain. This could be the year. He's back and ready to go.
It's not the knee I'm worried about, though, it's his shoulders. He'll need broad ones. The weight of a season is on him, it seems. The shoes he fills are huge.
He has a legend to play up to, after taking a year off.