Peterson gets tryout with Washington Redskins
By Tom Haley
Herald Staff | April 30,2007
The phone call to Tucker Peterson's family home in Clarendon on Monday at 8:30 a.m. brought an end to a weekend of frustration and suspense. The Washington Redskins asked him to report to a camp for workouts Thursday.
Peterson, a first team All-Atlantic 10 selection at left guard, had come home from the University of New Hampshire with his girlfriend Becca Porter to watch the NFL draft Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday was a relaxing day as Peterson knew he would not hear his name called in one of the earlier rounds. He busied himself making notations about who was selected so he would have a feel for what team might be the best fit if he did find a place in the NFL.
Sunday was a different story. He waited and waited and did not hear his name called.
"It was a stressful situation," Peterson said. "The phone was not ringing and I was getting nervous. I saw a lot of linemen picked who were right around me according to different Web sites. It was really nerve racking."
No less so for Porter, who came to home with Peterson to share the moment.
"It was very stressful and nerve racking. I knew how upset he was. There was so much pressure on him," she said.
Alabama defensive back Ramzee Robinson was selected as the 255th and final player in the draft. It was over. Peterson and David Ball, a UNH teammate and fellow Vermonter, had not heard their name called. UNH defensive back Corey Graham, on the other hand, was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Bears.
Peterson waited by the phone, hoping for that post-draft call that would invite him to some NFL team as a free agent. That call never came Sunday night.
Peterson's agent said he did not understand why nobody had called.
Neither did Peterson. He impressed everyone during a pro day on the Durham campus when scouts from at least a dozen NFL teams came to assess his goods. The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Peterson showed them a 35-inch vertical jump, ran the 40 in just over five seconds and broad jumped 9 feet, 7inches.
That workout had raised his hopes for hearing his name on TV on the second day of the draft.
But Monday morning the call came from the Redskins, wiping away all the frustration from Sunday.
"The mood changed just like that," Peterson said.
"The Redskins sounded like they were very surprised I was still around."
Peterson said he had been talking about a number of teams he thought he might go with and the Redskins were not one of them.
"We said it would be probably some team we had not talked about," Peterson said. "I always kind of liked them."
There is, in fact, a photo in one of the family albums of a 3-year-old Tucker Peterson wearing a Redskins jersey.
Peterson said a chance of playing in the NFL went from being more than a far-off dream to something approaching reality when he was a junior at Mill River Union High School attending a football camp at Penn State.
"It kind of hit me then when I was at least holding my own with some of the best high school players in the country," Peterson said. "I was running a 5.2 in the 40 and the other linemen were running a 5.4 or 5.5. They were kind of amazed at what I was doing.
"I said 'Maybe this is not just a dream.'"
Peterson was a teammate of his brother George Peterson for much of his career at UNH. George was an outstanding linebacker and had his own chance at professional football. He was recently cut by the Colorado Crush, the Arena Football League team owned by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.
You get the feeling Tucker is going to be playing for George a little bit, too, when he arrives inWashington D.C.
"He didn't get a fair chance. They cut all the rookies," Tucker said.
Peterson hopes to improve his chances with the Redskins by trying out as a center as well as at the guard position he played at UNH.
"I am a little bit short for the offensive line so I have been working out at center," Peterson said.
Monday he was going to get his brother Joe, who lives in Clarendon, and execute 100 to 200 snaps with him.
Peterson's blocking was a big part of UNH's offense that scored 35.31 points per game, second in the nation in Division I-AA.
The Peterson football lineage is impressive. Tucker's father Art Peterson started on the offensive line at Army. Tucker's grandfather also played football at Army and a great uncle was a two-time All-American at Navy. Brother George, like Tucker, was a captain at UNH.
One phone call Monday morning removed a lot of stress and uncertainty.
"It was a relief," Porter said.
One phone call changed Tuckerson Peterson's mood and, just maybe, his life. And it added yet another line to the considerable family football lineage.
Contact Tom Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org