MOBILE, Ala. — Nathan Peterman smiled when asked about his time at Tennessee and said he wouldn’t change a thing.
Peterman, who by all accounts greatly improved his draft stock at the Senior Bowl this week, explained how leaving the Vols to finish his career at Pitt made him a better player.
“A big thing at the quarterback position is you have to be mentally tough, you have to have the skin of an elephant, and certainly I learned that at Tennessee,” said Peterman, who spent three seasons in Knoxville before transferring out.
“Those were formative years of my life and something that I look back on, and I wouldn’t change it at all,” he said. “I learned a lot through adversity. I learned to be detailed and to really study as much as you can, and to be prepared for all situations.”
Peterman has prepared himself well this week for Saturday’s Senior Bowl game at Ladd Stadium (TV: 2:30 p.m. NFL Network). He’ll lead the North team against a South squad led by his former Tennessee teammate, Josh Dobbs.
“I guess we can’t get away from each other, but competition is never a bad thing, it’s always good,” Dobbs said Thursday “It was good to see a familiar face here this week, and I’m really excited for him, heard he had a great week of practice.”
The circumstances that led Peterman to leave Tennessee were difficult, but understandable and common.
Former Vols coach Derek Dooley signed the 3-star prep prospect out of Jacksonville, Fla., to play in Jim Chaney’s offensive system, redshirting Peterman for the 2012 season.
In 2013, Coach Butch Jones took over the Tennessee program and hand picked Josh Dobbs in his first signing class to play in his offensive system.
Peterman’s skills and experience enabled him to play 11 games for the Vols before Jones turned the offense over to Dobbs midway through the 2014 season.
Tennessee’s quarterback shuffle led to plenty of talk, speculation and social media chatter.
“I had to learn to tune out all the distractions, all the Twitter and all the media,” Peterman said. “I learned to focus on football, and that makes life pretty good and football fun.”
Peterman was reunited with Chaney at Pitt his junior season before playing for offensive coordinator Matt Canada last season and leading the Panthers to wins over the Big Ten champs (Penn State) as well as the ACC and national champion Clemson Tigers.
“Nate is a very intelligent QB that was able to learn two different offenses while playing for us,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi told SECcountry.com “He’s a tremendous person that became a leader on offense, and I love him to death.
“He was one of our most crucial recruits, because when we arrived at Pitt there was only one scholarship quarterback at the position. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
With the ends justifying the means, Peterman has spoken only positives about Tennessee.
“They’ve got a great team, I have a lot of friends there, some graduated now, but I made several great relationships,” Peterman said. “It’s a different world in the SEC, you can’t deny that, and you learn a lot.
“I was around a lot of great players, and fortunately at Pitt, I was still around great players and it all worked out.”
Dobbs was among those tuned in when Peterman and the Panthers pulled off one of the biggest wins of the season.
“I followed him during his time at Pitt, and I was watching the Pitt-Clemson game after our Kentucky game” Dobbs said. “Seeing him come back and win on the road at Clemson was so impressive. That’s not easy to beat a team like that.”
Peterman, likewise, has followed Dobbs’ success.
“You have to understand it’s just football,” Peterman said, asked how the competition didn’t prevent him and Dobbs from being friends.
“Josh is obviously a great athlete and he’s a hard worker, a grinder, and he’s also got thick skin, which I think you have to have to play at Tennessee and in the SEC,” Peterman said. “He’s a good person, and I’m glad I got to see him and catch up.
“It’s been a great week.”
Former Tennessee and Pitt QB Nathan Peterman and Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Posted by SEC Country on Monday, January 23, 2017