In exactly four weeks from today, college football will be back in Norman! With 28 days remaining in our Countdown to Kickoff, today’s topic was set in stone the second this guy picked OU. Whenever fans of the Oklahoma Sooners think of the No. 28, there’s one player who comes to mind first. My friends, let’s take a trip down memory lane and discuss one of the greatest players, regardless of position, to ever step foot on Owen Field — the man, the myth, the Sooner, Adrian Peterson.
And before I dive deep into how spectacular Peterson was, I want to reiterate the caption in the tweet above. His nickname is ‘AD’, meaning ‘All Day’, because Adrian Peterson went to work all day long. The nickname was given to him by his father, Nelson Peterson, who spent virtually all of his son’s adolescence in prison before his 2006 release. If you ever hear someone refer to him as AP, just know that they’re either a sleeper agent from one of Oklahoma’s two orange-clad rivals or a simply a deeply confused individual. It holds a special significance for Peterson, and it should take precedence over any nickname created following his time in Norman. This is not up for discussion.
Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, allow me to talk about how insanely dominant Adrian Peterson was. First of all, the Palestine, Texas native was a three-sport phenom in high school. Peterson lettered in basketball and track, and while he was good on the court and excellent as a sprinter, the totality of his athletic gifts were most apparent on the gridiron.
Peterson was not just a five-star recruit coming out of the prep ranks, by some recruiting services he was regarded as the No. 1 player overall in the class of 2004. After putting on a show in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Peterson announced his college commitment.
As soon as Adrian Peterson enrolled at Oklahoma in ‘04, he was immediately the most gifted player in the program, which was saying a lot at the time. At 6’2”, he was taller than the average running back, and he was anything but small. I mean the dude looked like he was sculpted during the Renaissance period.
If having muscles on muscles wasn’t enough, Peterson was also one of the fastest players on the team. His quickness was good, but it was his top-end speed that separated him from just about everyone else on the field. To this day, it’s almost unbelievable how one player could be so big, strong and fast all at the same time. He was basically a real-life version of a guy I’d create on Madden. Totally unrealistic, but you know, video games. But this was real life! This was AD.
During his freshman season, Peterson did things on the field literally no other freshman in NCAA history has ever done. AD eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in his first nine games, and 11 of 13 total games. In three of those games, Peterson went over 200 yards, including contests against two of the Sooners’ biggest rivals, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Not only was Peterson running over and around the competition, he carried a load unprecedented for a freshman. His 339 rushing attempts were more carries than any player in their freshman season had ever totaled before. What Peterson was able to do was truly remarkable, which is why he was invited to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. To this day, AD’s second-place finish behind USC’s Matt Leinart is the highest ever for a true freshman. I still think he deserved to win it, but he instead had to settle for being a Unanimous All-American.
Peterson would go on to play two more seasons at Oklahoma, wrapping up his college career with 4,041 rushing yards, 41 rushing touchdowns and three First Team All-Big 12 selections. It’s unfortunate that Peterson suffered a collar bone injury in the middle of the ‘06 season, so because of that, his 1,925 yard, 15 TD freshman campaign in ‘04 would prove to be the most prolific season of his career.
Adrian Peterson chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2007 NFL Draft. It was then that the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the seventh overall pick. He would go on to have an amazing rookie season, rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 TDs. In the midst of his massive debut as a pro, he set the NFL’s all-time single-game rushing record with a monstrous 296-yard performance against the San Diego Chargers.
Peterson would play in Minnesota for 10 seasons, winning three NFL rushing titles (‘08, ‘12, ‘15) and one NFL MVP (‘12). Through 2016, AD recorded a staggering 11,747 rushing yards and 97 scores on the ground for the Vikings before brief stints in New Orleans and Arizona in 2017. He currently sits at 12,276. His chances of ever reappearing in an NFL field appear slim at this point, but he’s defied expectations before.
When it comes to the conversation of dominant running backs, whether that’s pro or college, Adrian Peterson’s name should forever be among the select few that are mentioned. AD had it all: Size, speed, power, burst, explosiveness, and drive. I won’t hold my breath for another like him to show up on the Sooners’ doorstep. I’m just glad his pathway to greatness made a pit stop in Norman, Okla.
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