AUBURN, Ala. — Although he didn’t mean to do it, Auburn football senior linebacker Tre’ Williams left new teammate Jordyn Peters hanging out to dry in a scrimmage Saturday.
Right before the Tigers offense ran a certain play, Williams made a pre-snap check. Immediately, the rest of Auburn’s veteran defense made their adjustments. But Peters, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, looked around with shrugged shoulders.
The freshman safety hadn’t learned that particular call yet.
“[Williams] was about three days ahead on the installation, and we had a young guy looking like, ‘Coach, I didn’t know what he was talking about,'” Steele said Tuesday with a grin. “That’s OK. That’s alright.”
While Peters probably wanted to avoid a confusing situation like that on the practice field, the fact he was in that position spoke volumes.
Peters was only 10 practices into his Auburn career when Williams sent his head spinning with the check — one that Steele said he learned Tuesday in practice. In that short amount of time, the former 3-star recruit earned his way into lining up next to the Tigers’ leaders on the first- and second-team defenses.
Auburn started fall camp two weeks ago with only three scholarship safeties who had experience. That, along with minor injuries, opened the door for Peters to make an impact as a freshman.
“Jordyn Peters, he’s going to be a great player,” junior linebacker Darrell Williams said after Auburn’s first scrimmage. “He’s going to do some good things.”
Peters has worked with Auburn’s veterans at both safety and nickel. The latter position is important for the Tigers since they must replace three-year starter Rudy Ford.
The Muscle Shoals, Ala., native has turned heads with his work at both positions, making him an early favorite among coaches and teammates.
“He’s versatile,” sophomore cornerback Jamel Dean said Tuesday. “I just see great things from him as a freshman, because he’s improving each day.”
At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Peters brings good length and range to the Auburn secondary. His sure tackling and all-around athleticism made him a popular target among several SEC schools and ACC schools during the recruiting process.
“Jordyn is long, athletic, fast and can jump,” senior safety Jason Smith said. “Physical at the point of attack.”
What stands out most to Steele isn’t Peters’ physical tools but his mental ones. An ability to pick up the defense quickly and rise to the challenge as a freshman on an experienced unit has made him a high-riser in camp.
“He is a smart guy,” Steele said. “He’s highly competitive and he doesn’t rattle. He’s very calm.”
In addition to playing a depth role as a freshman in 2017, Peters could be the centerpiece of a new wave of talent at safety. Those three scholarship safeties with experience — Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts and Nick Ruffin — are seniors.
And Matthews, the leader of that group, sees great things down the road for Peters — especially after he learns the checks.
“Jordyn Peters has been looking very good,” Matthews said last month at SEC Media Days. “I was coaching him up yesterday in the middle of the field at safety, not showing the quarterback where you’re going. He’s picking up on things so quick, I’m excited to see what he’ll do in the future.”