Peterson Can't Wait For The Moment

Former Sooner wouldn't mind landing in Cleveland, of all places

April 24, 2007

By Adam Caparell



Adam is's football editor and national football writer.
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Adrian Peterson has heard the same question over and over again, asked about a hundred different ways.


"How are you feeling? How's your shoulder? Are you 100 percent?" It's the first thing every NFL team wants to know about the best running back in this year's draft class.


Fully recovered from the broken collar bone he suffered in Oklahoma's win over Iowa State last October, Peterson can smile and tell them exactly what they all want to here.


"I tell them it's feeling good," Peterson said. "I don't have any pain in it. I'm lifting, doing everything I was doing before. It's feeling pretty good."


That's music to the ears of the teams looking to select the all-world running back from Oklahoma in this weekend's NFL Draft because there's no doubt about who the best available back is.


Rushing for 4,045 career yards in only 31 games with the Sooners, Peterson will go down as one of the greatest backs in Oklahoma history and possess the physical skills that every NFL general manager would salivates over.


At a rugged and cut 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, "All Day" has the speed, athleticism and brooding demeanor on the field that nearly carried him to the top of Oklahoma's all-time rushing list. Falling just 73 yards short of Billy Sims school record of yards, it's staggering to imagine how many yards he could have put had he been healthy throughout his three years in Norman.


"Only God knows," Peterson said. "I kind of look back and think about it."


Peterson ran for 1,925 yards his first season and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Matt Leinart - the best finish ever for a freshman. Scoring 41 touchdowns and averaging 5.4 yards per carry for his career, Peterson only started 22 games while completely missing eight. Ankle injuries hampered him his sophomore year and then the collar bone his junior season, a step here or there and things could have been a whole lot different for Peterson.  


"It could have been some crazy numbers," he said.


And maybe just as crazy is the uncertainty surrounding this year's draft. There seems to be one consensus top player in Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, but predicting who will fall where is an act of futility. Johnson could go anywhere within the top four picks, and Peterson?


Depending on the mock draft you subscribe to, the Sooner is projected to go anywhere from the No. 3 selection, currently owned by the Browns, to as far down as the Bills at No. 12. A huge gap that could leave Peterson, one of five players selected by the NFL to be in attendance at the draft in New York, sitting in the green room for a couple of hours.


But Peterson isn't going to sweat it. He'll fall where he falls. However, he's one of the few players who has openly admitted a preference of what team he'd like to play for. That's a far cry from your average NFL prospect who normally tells you they don't care where they end up on draft day. They're just happy to get picked.


Not Peterson.


He'd like to go to a city that could easily be considered the polar opposite of where Peterson grew up in Palestine, Texas, a couple hours southeast of Dallas. It's a place known for its losing ways, the harsh winters and very rabid following that appeals to Peterson as much as anything else.


We're talking Cleveland, of course, the city that has only seen one winning team in the last decade - including the three it spent without a team - but where the Dawg Pound would welcome him with open arms.

"It's a pretty nice city," Peterson said. "Die hard fans. That's one of the things that draws me to Cleveland, the closest you could get to a college atmosphere."


And it's not the only reason. There's also a familiarity factor at play.


"Cleveland happens to be one of the teams really interested in me and they have some former OU players down there," Peterson said.


Having Travis Wilson, Antonio Perkins and Brodney Pool - all former Sooners - has made the idea of Peterson playing in Cleveland all the more enticing.


"I get a lot of feedback from those guys and know how it is," Peterson said.


He may lay claim to knowing how life in Cleveland is like, but the one thing Peterson has no idea about is how he'll react when his name is called Saturday and he finally finds out his destination.


"I can just imagine it's going to be a feeling I've never felt before," Peterson said. "To take that third step, making it to the NFL, is definitely going to be a day I remember and an emotional day."


It's been a roller-coaster life for Peterson, from a childhood where he saw his nine-year old brother killed riding his bike to his father, Nelson, serving time in jail. Just this past February, his half-brother was shot and killed in Houston.


Yet for all the bad he's experienced, Peterson comes off as nothing but upbeat and pleasant. One thing that's a guarantee to get a smile out of the back is the mere mention of his young daughter, two year old Adeja. He just wants to make the best life for her possible, to be the best player he can be and maybe leave his own mark on the league.  


"I'm kind of anxious for it to come," Peterson said. "I've been waiting for this my whole life."


And teams like the Browns, or whoever ends up picking up Peterson, hope they have finally found the back they've been waiting for just as long.