If you plan on attending Georgia Southern University's fall graduation at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, you are officially advised to arrive early. The Eagles' all-time greatest running back, College Football Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, will be back in the house, his house, Paulson Stadium, as commencement speaker.
Graduate as well as undergraduate students will be awarded their degrees in this one ceremony.
"Due to the extremely large crowd expected, it is suggested that plans be made to arrive on campus by 11:45 a.m. or earlier," states the announcement provided by Director of Communications Jennifer Wise.
The university also is encouraging carpooling, and a shuttle service will be provided beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing, in the return direction, for one hour after the end of the ceremony. A parking and shuttle map, along with other commencement details, can be found at GeorgiaSouthern.edu/commencement.
Peterson, from Alachua, Florida, graduated from Georgia Southern in 2001 after leading the Eagles to two national titles and three championship games. He was the first sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top player in the nation at the Football Championship Subdivision level. He rushed for 100 or more yards in 48 consecutive games, is the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I all-time leading rusher with 6,559 yards in regular-season contests, and at the time of graduation, he held 30 school and playoff records.
Halls of Fame
Georgia Southern retired Peterson's No. 3 jersey in 2001, and in 2012, he was a unanimous choice for induction into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He was inducted as a member of the inaugural Southern Conference Hall of Fame class in 2009, and this year was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In fact, he returned to Allen E. Paulson Stadium for the Eagles' first home game this season, Sept. 9, where the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame jointly honored him with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute.
After leaving Georgia Southern, Adrian N. Peterson was a sixth-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 2002. He remained with the Bears through the 2009 season and played in Super Bowl XLI in 2006.
In addition to his outstanding athletic career, Peterson became a champion for anyone with disabilities by publishing a book in 2012, "Don't Dis My Abilities," which revealed his struggle with stuttering.
Now 38, he should not be confused with Adrian L. Peterson, 32, who is still active in the NFL.
This will be the second fall graduation held at Paulson Stadium since the Student Government Association and signers of an online petition asked to move the ceremony there in 2016.
Crowd size had become a challenge with the multiple same-day December ceremonies previously held indoors at Hanner Fieldhouse. Students sought the move outdoors as an alternative after the university administration proposed assigning each graduate a limited number of guest tickets.
Last December, the weather was relatively warm by the 1 p.m. start of the outdoor ceremony. Attendees may want to check next week's weather forecasts.