January 15, 2012

Peters reaffirms UT, talks new D.C.

Covington, La., linebacker Otha Peters has been a Vol for quite a while. He made his official visit to Knoxville this weekend, and for Peters it was a great chance for both him and his mother to see why he picked Tennessee.

"I just loved hanging out with all the players," Peters said. "We just chilled in the dorms and played video games. They are all great guys and cool people. They are really easy to talk to and they are mentor type guys."

Peters had a great relationship with former linebackers coach Peter Sirmon and former defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. He has also been close to Tennessee defensive backs coach Terry Joseph and that helped soften the blow when Sirmon and Wilcox departed for Washington.

"I have a good relationship with the coaches," Peters said. "I got to know them better. I got to meet coach (Sal) Sunseri and he was showing me some of the defenses I'll be playing. I can't wait to get up there. He had me playing Mike and Will linebacker (in a 3-4 system) when he was showing me the stuff."

Sunseri never told Peters what position he would possibly coach if he chooses to coach a position. The two did spend a good amount of time together and Peters was impressed with the longtime NFL and college assistant.

"It was really good and it was important," Peters said. "He's coached a lot of great players and he told me that I have a chance to be one. He was playful, but he was serious when it needs to be business. He's going to care about you and joke with you, but he knows how to get the best out of you on and off the field."

It was also the first chance for Peters' mother to visit Knoxville.

"My momma had a really good time up here," Peters said. "She got to know a lot of the commitments' parents really good. She took a lot of pictures. She is sure about everything now. She really enjoyed hanging out with Jason Croom's momma and LaDarrell (McNeil's) momma. They all became really close over the weekend."

Indeed, Sheila Peters told VolQuest.com this weekend was critical for her in her son's recruitment.

"I had kind of wanted him to go to like a smaller college; I thought maybe Tennessee was too big," she said. "Sometimes I feel like the big schools, the system, they can lose a kid; that's why I kind of was for TCU. But he said, 'Mom, when we go to Tennessee, we're going to compare the two.'

"So I loved it here. I enjoyed it. And they convinced me that they're going to look after my child, because he's so far away from home. I was convinced that they really care about the kids."

Like the rest of the visitors on campus, Peters got to attend the Tennessee basketball game on Saturday afternoon. He was amazed by the amount of people that recognized him and he was blown away when the fans chanted his name.

"It was cool," Peters said with a laugh. "I had my I.D. tucked away and everything, but I guess they knew who I was. It felt good that they knew who I was and it was just a cool experience."

Seeing her son recognized out of uniform at a basketball game also made an impression on Sheila Peters.

"I was like 'Otha, how do these people know you?' And he was like 'I don't know; I'm hiding my name-tag. I don't even have my name-tag,'" she said. "But they still knew that was him. It was very exciting.

"I've been with him every since he started playing at six years old, and I love football. I enjoy it."

The talented Bayou 'backer spent a good amount of time hanging out with the current roster, but he did get to know some of the other Vol commitments.

"Justin King and I talked a lot," Peters said. "It's good to build a bond since we are both playing linebacker. I spent a lot of time with Davante (Bourque) and he committed. He really loved it and he told me that he was ready to come up here. He said it felt like the right spot for him. His dad had a good time it looked like."

It's big for Peters to move on past the coaching changes and focus on his final semester of high school. He doesn't plan on doing a lot of recruiting the next weeks. In fact, he plans on just laying low.

"I'm going to relax," Peters said. "I've gotten someone else from Louisiana committed so I'm good now. I'm just going to set back and enjoy high school. It's my last semester so I'm going to spend a lot of time with family and friends."

And now, both Otha and Sheila Peters feel good about the decision.

"He always said Tennessee and I would try to tell him no, not Tennessee," she said. "I had people, because we're from Louisiana, say why Tennessee. Why not LSU? And I'm not going to make my son. Wherever he goes, I'm going to support him 100 percent. So he'll be here.

"Coach Dooley, man. For him to be a head coach and I know he stays busy a lot, but I felt like he was very concerned. Don't mind sitting down and having a conversation. He'll treat my son like it was his son, and I really do believe that. All the coaches."

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