Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. In this edition, we discuss the latest with the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker, JJ Peterson.
JJ Peterson still has Alabama on top of his recruitment
RIVERDALE, Ga. — JJ Peterson didn’t grow up with his father. His mother wasn’t around much either. He’ll be the first to tell you that his childhood wasn’t great. He’ll tell you about some of his family members and friends getting caught up with drugs, gangs and a shooting that claimed the life of an elderly man, too.
He’ll also talk about the love of his life, his baby daughter Alexandria Peterson, with a smile on his face. He’ll also tell you all about what Colquitt County coach Rush Propst, or “dad,” has done for him. All of the coaches who want the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker to commit to their respective school should thank Propst for guiding Peterson these past few years.
Propst, wearing dark sunglasses and a grey Nike bucket hat, couldn’t hold back the emotion when talking about his star linebacker.
“I love him like he’s my own son,” Propst told SEC Country. “I have tears in my eyes because I just love him so much.”
The legendary high school football coach rates Peterson as one of the top 2 athletes, along with former Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson, he’s coached in his nearly 30 years of coaching. More importantly than that, Propst can see that Peterson wants to provide for his daughter the way his father didn’t for him growing up.
“She’s going to be treated like a queen, as she should be,” Propst said of Alexandria. “I’ve got three daughters. I know how daddies are with their daughters. JJ is a very good daddy. First off, she’s adorable. I take her from him most of the time. I know what that bond is like between a father and daughter. I know JJ, like me, is scared to death about her growing up the same way he did. He has the control to not let that happen.”
And Peterson is trying to accomplish that.
“She motivates me so much,” Peterson said. “If I go to college, she goes to college, too. I don’t want her to grow up in the environment that I grew up in. I was raised very badly.”
Propst added: “He just wants to grow up in a normal household. He sees how me and my wife are. He wants to grow up in that same environment. He wants to be a good husband one day and a great father. He wants to be able to provide for his family one day, too. He’s headed in the right direction.”
Propst said this past week was the 4-star recruit’s best week of practice since he’s been at Colquitt County. He credited that to Peterson finally realizing that he has these opportunities to get a free education and play high-level college football. His top schools right now are Alabama, which is his leader, and Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon trailing the Crimson Tide. The Tigers and Ducks are in his top 3, but Propst thinks that there really isn’t a true list.
But Alabama is clearly on Peterson’s mind. The Crimson Tide have led for the South Georgia standout for several months now.
“I love Alabama. I love all of their coaches and they treat me very well,” Peterson said. “They are recruiting me very, very hard. The one thing that stands out is how close of a team they are and how they do everything together as a team. It’s not about individuals there. The whole team stands out.”
Auburn has been gaining ground on Alabama because of Peterson’s close relationship with Tigers linebackers coach Travis Williams. Peterson will return to Auburn for Big Cat weekend on June 3. Before then, he’s expected to spend two days in Tuscaloosa for camp. He will also visit Georgia in mid-June and possibly Florida State in July. Oregon could get a visit when Peterson is there in late June and early July for Nike’s The Opening camp. Propst and Peterson are also working on setting up a trip to Michigan. The Wolverines are coming after him hard.
While Alabama may be the favorite right now, Propst thinks no one should count out any school just yet.
“This recruitment is a long ways from being over,” Propst said. “Auburn is still in it. We’re going to take him to Georgia and Florida State and he’s probably going to end up visiting Michigan, too. Oregon is in the mix. Those are probably the six. I don’t think you can eliminate any of those schools right now, in my opinion.”
One advantage Alabama and Auburn have over the other schools in the mix is Propst’s connection to Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and Tigers offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. Both coaches previously worked under Propst at Hoover (Ala.) High School before taking jobs on the collegiate level.
Peterson was clear, though, that just because Propst may be friends with both coaches, that doesn’t mean he’s pushing him to go to one of the two schools. He has, however, told Peterson about what he should expect if he chooses the Crimson Tide.
“Alabama appeals to a lot of kids because of their tradition and how they get things done,” Propst said. “Everything Nick does is first class. There’s no secret that coach [Nick] Saban is the best in the business. There’s an extremely competitive edge you get by being there because JJ knows if that’s the school he chooses, there will be four players at his position that are as good as he is.”
Peterson has dreamed about what it would be like to walk across the stage and shake the commissioner of the NFL’s hand one day. There’s one man who he hopes is there with him on that day: Propst.
“He has done so much for me,” Peterson said. “He continues to do a lot for me. He is like a dad to me. I am thankful for so much. It’s not even one thing I can say. He does so much for me. That’s like my dad.”
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