April 11, 2010

WR excels as quarterback at Elite 11

FORT WORTH, Texas - Grant Peterson was one of the top performers at Saturday's Elite 11 regional camp held on the campus of TCU.

As an observer with no context, that wouldn't seem surprising. Peterson certainly has the build of an elite passer at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. He showed a strong arm all day long, whips the ball out with a quick release and he showed the accuracy to hit the short, intermediate and deep routes.

He sure sounds like an elite quarterback. There is a catch though. Peterson doesn't even play the position.

Teams that play in District 16-5A in Texas may know of Peterson as a tall wide receiver for Austin (Texas) Westwood. The team was quarterbacked by sophomore Ben Johnson in 2009 while Peterson remained on the receiving end of passes. In fact, the 2010 season may not be much different.

"I'm looking at starting full time at receiver and coach said that he wanted to split time a little bit at quarterback," said Peterson of his senior season plans.

Even at wide receiver, Peterson got limited opportunities. Playing in a run-heavy offense that featured Utah signee Princton Collins, Peterson was not asked to be the primary threat offensively.

That is not to say that he isn't capable. The big wide receiver has been clocked as fast as 4.47 in the 40, while usually running in the 4.5 range. He also runs the 400 meters in the low 50-second range.

On Saturday though, Peterson was delivering and he was delivering well.

"I think I did good," he said following his performance. "I started off a little slow and then started getting the feel of it and threw it pretty good I thought."

Most of the coaches and analysts in attendance agreed.

Physically, Peterson is one of the prospects that jumps out at you the most in the camp. He is tall, with broad shoulders, long arms and a proportioned frame. As a passer, Peterson has a quick release and a strong arm that gets the ball to the receiver in a hurry once a decision is made. He showed great ability to put the ball on a rope and fit it into tight windows and between coverages. His one major weakness was footwork and that is something that Peterson clearly recognizes.

"I felt throwing-wise I can throw with the best of them," he said of his day. "With my feet I need to get a little better. With my drop backs, they weren't solid but I haven't practiced the position too much. But I feel that I did good."

With limited experience at quarterback and question marks as to how much quarterback play will be presented to him as a senior, what is the motivation to compete at the Elite 11?

"I just came here last year and then got the Elite 11 invitation and I just came out here to see how I stack up," he said. "I wanted to see how I do against everybody else. I was really just seeing how I can do and if quarterback really is a future for me. I should play where I'm best at."

Currently, Peterson is picking up interest from the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Alabama, Miami and Purdue. As for what position those schools see him as, there are some varying opinions.

"I know Kansas looks at me more as a receiver," he said. "Illinois has been sending me stuff and they're looking more at quarterback."

This offseason, Peterson hopes to help clarify things by camping at LSU, Texas Tech, Alabama, Miami, Florida and Oregon. Peterson's own personal vision of where he fits on the field has a prototype and it isn't a quarterback.

"I would probably be like a receiving H-Back like how Missouri used Chase Coffman," he said.

Peterson has the size and frame to grow into such a role and he has also developed a taste for blocking which would also help him in that capacity.

"The first round of state playoffs they put me in at tight end this year," he said. "Before, blocking, I didn't really enjoy it with the tight end stuff but I went in there and had a lot of fun."

While Peterson is looking for any offer at this point, the one school that he hopes to impress at some point with his pass-catching abilities is Oregon.

"I'd love to go to Oregon," he said. "I'd love an Oregon or Florida kind of offense. They throw the ball but I feel like as a receiver I can do a lot of the blocking too."

The 2011 prospect hopes to impress both of those programs at camp this summer and if his performance at receiver shows the same promise as his performance at quarterback, he may give some schools something to think about.

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