Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star like JJ Peterson might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
JJ Peterson is old school. He’s from South Georgia AND old school.
That does not mean he’s tougher than new rope or a truck stop steak. Both comparisons might also apply, though.
Colquitt County junior JJ Peterson is rated as the nation’s No. 1 OLB prospect in 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
The Colquitt County junior seems like the highest-rated 2018 prospect nobody has a good read on.
That’s not simply in the recruiting reporter lane.
College recruiters are in the dark, too. That has to be an angst-ridden feeling trying to build a relationship with the nation’s No. 1 OLB.
Peterson doesn’t do much on Twitter or Instagram. Or Facebook. That means he’s not plugged into social media and 2017 recruiting.
All that can come in a ping. But what happens when that ping is ignored or never seen?
Google searches come up empty. That’s what.
That’s because the 6-foot-2, 218-pounder doesn’t even like to talk on the phone. That will make it very hard for Power 5 coaches to get to know him.
The nation’s No. 1 OLB (per the 247Sports Composite ranking) doesn’t even do text messages. That’s a time warp which goes back another five years.
Peterson might be what college football recruiting was like back in 2007.
“He’s just not a phone talker either,” Colquitt County coach Rush Propst said. “He’s an ol’ South Georgia country boy that doesn’t get into the media hype stuff. He just does not. He doesn’t care to talk to anybody. Jim Harbaugh could call him. Urban Meyer could call him or Nick Saban could call him during a contact period. He probably wouldn’t even answer the phone. He just doesn’t get into all of that.”
Peterson rates as the nation’s No. 49 overall prospect for 2018. It will be quite informative when he meets with reporters at the Nike Opening regional in Atlanta this month.
He’s currently planning to compete at that event.
“The bottom line (for Peterson) is it is going to be Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia,” Propst said. “Those are the five. If you threw a six or seven in there, then six would probably be South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU or Michigan. That would be six, seven, eight and then nine for him.”
The latest information on Peterson
Propst has won at the highest levels in Alabama and Georgia. According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, Propst has tallied a 94-30 mark after his nine seasons with the Packers.
JJ Peterson is rated as the nation’s No. 1 OLB prospect for 2018, but there’s not a lot of information out there about him. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
Those 94 wins include two state titles and three trips to the state final. Propst’s winning ways extended to a dominant run with Hoover in Alabama. His Bucs went 110-16 and won five state titles in six years in that state’s highest classification.
Propst told me something this week that seems just as valuable as those national rankings.
He placed Peterson among the Top 5 high school players he’s ever coached. And that’s saying quite a lot across a resume that includes former NFL first-round picks like Chad Jackson, South Carolina sophomore Kiel Pollard and multi-year starters across the SEC.
That’s coming from one of the nation’s unparalleled high school coaches of the last 20 years. There are few coaches anywhere that can match both his football acumen and resume. There would be little debate about that.
Who’s chasing Peterson? Propst said he’s taken Peterson to Georgia four times, including Junior Days and 7-on-7 camps.
Propst said Nick Saban told him Alabama will make Peterson a priority for 2018.
“I think he’s going to take awhile with his decision,” Propst said. “I don’t know what he is going to do. … This one is not going to be rushed even though all these college coaches want to go ahead and get everybody committed early now.”
Peterson has been to Florida twice. He’s also made one trip to Tuscaloosa. The 4-star prospect has also been to South Carolina. He plans to be at Auburn sometime in the next week.
There’s one thing which seems clear: Don’t expect Peterson to sign with a school from outside the South. That won’t stop a lot of schools from trying.
“His speed is the key,” Propst said. “His speed is phenomenal. He’s got a chance to be one of the top defensive players in the state this year just based on his speed alone. … He’s the most explosive kid I’ve ever coached on defense now.”
Georgia outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer is recruiting him. Sherrer served as the defensive coordinator for Propst at Hoover.
There’s a trust factor between those two that maybe only Jeremy Pruitt at Alabama or Chip Lindsey at Auburn can replicate. Lindsey and Pruitt both coached under Propst at Hoover in Alabama.
The Propst coaching tree now extends to the offensive coordinator at Auburn, the defensive coordinator at Alabama and the outside linebackers coach at Georgia.
The scouting report on JJ Peterson
What does he do best? Propst summed it up.
“He’s just an athlete,” Propst said. “He’s a violent tackler with that explosion in his hips that does tackle extremely well. You can’t block him long. He gets off blocks extremely well and then he’s got that explosion chasing things down and shows that with a great vertical leap, too.”
He said that Peterson has it all.
“Most guys with his speed from what I have seen in the past are not as good of a tackler,” Propst said. “They are grabbers. They chase guys and wrap them up and pull them down. JJ is going to bring his hips and is going to hit you.”
Propst said Peterson tallied 11.5 sacks last season but didn’t play in every scheme. He added another approximate 20 tackles for losses.
“Pull up the kickoff he took back against Lowndes on the film,” Propst said. “Watch his speed. If that linebacker there is not a 10.9 or an 11-flat in the 100-meter dash I don’t know who is. He’s probably right now at 4.51 in the 40-yard dash. He may be sub-4.5 in the 40 this spring. We’ll see.”
With a guy that fast, the bag of tricks always includes the smash-mouth card. Coordinators will eventually come right at the guy. They want to see if he can make plays picking fullbacks and guards out of his teeth.
“People have tried that,” Propst said. “That’s where he is really good. You make him chase and he’ll catch you. Come right and him and he’s dang good getting off those blocks. He’s the complete package now.”
He can line up at either linebacker spot. Peterson should see a lot of time at ILB this year for the Packers.
Propst mentioned one other play as a must-see.
“Look at the Roswell game from his sophomore year when we beat them in the state championship game,” Propst said. “Watch him chase their quarterback down.”
When a very prominent college head coach saw that play, that was all it took for him to extend a scholarship offer.