College Football Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and Georgia Southern alum has been named the director of student-athlete development for the Georgia Southern football program, as announced Tuesday by head coach Chad Lunsford. He takes over for Andrew Dodge, who moved to an on-field coaching assignment toward the end of the 2016 season.
In his new role, Peterson will work closely with Student-Athlete Services to provide communication to the football staff on the academic progress of all 100-plus student-athletes on the team. He will also serve as a mentor for many players as they navigate their way through college with the end goal of every player earning his degree. He will also have a heavy hand in on-campus recruiting, APR other areas to be determined by Lunsford.
"It's an honor to be back at Georgia Southern, a University that helped me grow as a young man," Peterson said. "Now I get the opportunity help our student-athletes grow on and off the field."
Peterson's No. 3 jersey is retired at Georgia Southern and he still stands as the NCAA's Division I all-time leading rusher with 6,559 yards in regular-season contests. He is already a member of GS's Athletics Hall of Fame and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December. The Alachua, Florida, native was a four-time All-American and was the first sophomore to win the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in the FCS. He rushed for 100 or more yards in 48 consecutive games and at the time of graduation, held 30 school and playoff records. He was a sixth-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 2002 and was a Super Bowl XLI participant.
Peterson was inducted as a member of the inaugural SoCon Hall of Fame class in 2009 and was a unanimous choice for induction into Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2012 in his first year of eligibility.He is well known for his charity work and advocacy of the importance of education. He has dedicated his life to motivational speaking and working with multiple charities.
Peterson and fellow Georgia Southern star Tracy Ham are the only two Eagles enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and they are also the only two Georgia Southern football players to have their jersey numbers retired. They are both now on staff at their alma mater, Ham as a senior associate AD for internal operations.
"Adding Adrian Peterson to our staff is something that means a lot to Georgia Southern and to our community," Lunsford said. "He will serve a daily role in the lives of our student-athletes. His life experiences will definitely be of great benefit to our players and he will be able to serve them as a role model for them. We keep talking about the right fit and blue collar and no exemplifies that more than AP. He will be a huge asset to this program and I'm fired up to be able to get him back to Statesboro."
Peterson is the second off-field coaching hire Lunsford has made in recent weeks, announcing former GS slotback T.J. Anderson to the role of director of high school relations late January.
Georgia Southern will begin spring practice on Thursday, March 8 with the Spring Game set for Saturday, April 14.