BREAKING: Vols add coveted linebacker J.J. Peterson
The first addition of 2018 is in the big orange boat and it's south Georgia standout J.J. Peterson. The talented linebacker announced his decision on Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Army All-American game.
"It's going to be a family at Tennessee," Peterson told Volquest on Thursday when discussing his decision. "All the coaches there know coach (Rush) Propst and they have coached with him. Now everyone is at that one school and I have players there that I've played with. It makes it better for me."
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been important to Peterson for a while and a staff that looks very familiar is a nice punch to finish off his recruitment. Make no mistake though, it's the first time college head coach that made Peterson a top priority and it paid off big time.
"I have been with him for a minute," Peterson said. "I have been building a relationship with him since my 11th grade year. We don't just talk football. I'm looking for someone that can help me in my life. We talk about life and how I can help my future and helping me in school. That's the type of relationship that we have."
With former teammates Ja'Quain Blakely and Shawn Shamburger in Knoxville, Peterson is looking forward to re-uniting with them on Rocky Top. He's been talking to them to get the full story on Tennessee and he can't wait till his official visit next weekend.
"It's comfortable at Tennessee," Peterson said. "Shamburger and J-Blakely told me the Vol life is great. They told me once you get to campus, it's better than great. I'm just ready to get up there and see everything."
Peterson will visit Knoxville next weekend and he hopes to have company with him.
"I know you know my boy Quay Walker," Peterson said. "I told him I'm committing and coming up next weekend. I think he is going to come with me. He's committed to Bama, but hopefully we can get him."
Tennessee has a great need for linebackers. They are void of true playmakers at what is a very important position in Pruitt's defense. You would think that would play a key role, but Peterson has a different mindset.
"To be honest, if Tennessee did have linebackers it wouldn't mean anything," Peterson said. "I just want a chance. Just put me in and give me a chance and I'll make my way to the game. That's not cockiness. I have heart and when you have heart you can't stop me. If you don't have heart, you are out of luck. If you have heart, it better beat like mine."
The athletic and rangy athlete plays all over the field for Colquitt County. He returns kicks, plays wide receiver. He does just a little bit of everything. Something that head coach Rush Propst believes is the future of the game.
“He is just so athletic,” Propst said. “He is where the game is going. He plays all three downs. You don’t have to sub him out. He can rush the passer, drop in to coverage, play man to man or blitz. There is nothing he can’t do. He is a bigger receiver that plays defense and to me that’s where the game is going.”
Whereas Peterson just views himself as a football player, willing to do what it takes to win.
"I bring a different type of energy," Peterson said. "I play sideline to sideline. I play everywhere to everywhere. I play everywhere. If I can give a point, take a point, I do it. I just want to win. That's my mentality."
Rivals.com ranks Peterson as a 4-star linebacker in the class of 2018.