Adrian Peterson teleconference, June 28, 2006
A transcript of Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson’s teleconference Thursday with members of the local and national media:
At times, it seems everything has come easy for you on the football field. What has been the most challenging thing for you to this point?
Basically, being able to be patient back there and trust in your offensive line that things are going to open. When I came in my first two years, just rushing and everything 100 miles per hour, relying on my speed. But just learn all about technique, waiting for different holes to open.
A lot of guys might be overwhelmed by the summer workouts or the hard work. A lot of guys might be overwhelmed by the speed of the game and the defense and the size of the linebackers. None of that really bothered you, did it?
No, not really. I just have to slow myself down.
How about off the field. Can you give us an example of what might be a tough day off the field for Adrian Peterson?
A tough day? You know, I guess just going difference places. That’s the only thing. Everywhere you go, people are always come up to you. That comes with the territory. Just not being able to do things you normally do.
How do you feel the spring helped you improve your skills, and what specifically do you feel you need to work on more?
Being able to go through spring helped me a lot. Get in better shape, put on a little weight also. Being able to go through spring for the first time helped me out a lot and improve. As far as improving, blocking, staying with blocks and everything like that. Catching the ball out of the backfield. Try to make things happen like that. That’s my main focus coming out of the spring.
A couple of years ago, Cedric Benson said he’d rather win the Heisman rather than win the Red River Shootout. What would you rather do?
Absolutely, beat Texas. No doubt about it.
Last year you had the ankle injury, didn’t make it back to New York the Heisman ceremony. Did those struggles last season maybe leave you with a chip on your shoulder?
You know, I guess you could say that. Kind of funny you say that. Last year, watching the Heisman, sitting at my house. Anything can happen. Try to make up for it. Sitting at the house last year, watching it on TV, thinking, this time last year I was up there. I use that as motivation for this year.
What was it like last year during the injury when you had to sit out, watching somebody else go out there?
It was painful, not being able to go out there with my teammates. It was hard for me.
How much do you weight right now?
I would say around 225.
You said it was hard to have to watch other things going on. But in general, how is what happened to you last year refocused you?
The whole season, just learn from it. I’m coming in more focused on winning the Big 12 and having a chance to play for a national championship.
Last year you guys had a little bit of a slump. With this season, you guys are ranked No. 1 in several preseason polls. Are you a little surprised by that?
You can’t look at it like that. We haven’t played the games yet.
If NFL rules were like NBA rules, you could have come out after your freshman year. Looking back, has it been best that you’re still in college or do you feel like you would have been ready a couple of years ago?
I think it’s best to be in college right now, because I’m still learning. I probably would have still stayed. It’s not basketball, it’s football. You go to the NFL, you’re playing against grown men, trying to feed their families. That’s the way I look at it.
When did you first start thinking or dreaming of the possibility of winning a Heisman Trophy?
When I was a little boy, seven or eight. Watching the Heisman on TV.
If you had your choice between winning the Heisman or winning a national championship, which would you choose and why?
The national championship, no doubt. You go through the workouts with all the guys, you bust your butt, lot of sweat and blood. Tears sometime. Trying to get ready for the Big 12, the national championship. The whole team aspect. It’s a team sport. Without my offensive linemen, I can’t do what I do. Winning the national championship is the goal. As a team, that’s what matters. So no doubt, winning the national championship.
A lot has been made about the offensive line. Last year, it struggled at times. Can you tell us how the line is working at this point?
As an offensive line, they’re looking good. Got some younger guys came in, some guys from junior college. what matters. They’re out there working hard, making themselves better, getting ready for the season. We’re ready now to get the pads on. We’ll have to get out there, see how things look.
You were quoted when you made your decision, I’m going to Oklahoma because they win championships and Texas doesn’t. Of course Texas has won a national championship now. Does that add to the rivalry?
I guess you could say that.
Are you motivated to make sure you get that national championship. The school you discarded now has one?
Not necessarily because of that. Just because the team, we want to prove it.
What is your primary motivation, when you’re grinding away, toiling away in the summer. What are you thinking about?
Lots of things motivate you. My dad. My brother. My parents. My daughter. Just want to do good for them, make all those people proud. My grandfather passed just recently. Those things motivate me and keep me on the straight and narrow. Do what I need to do.
What were you thinking when you watched Texas play USC last year?
Man, it was a great game. I was hoping Texas would win. I’m from Texas. I was rooting for Texas.
A lot of people are linking your name with (Notre Dame quarterback) Brady Quinn. They see you guys as 1-2 in the Heisman race. Have you ever met him? Do you know much about him?
I really don’t know much about him. Watching him play, he’s a great player. Very athletic. Makes great decisions. Good ballplayer. I’ve got the utmost respect for him.
You became a candidate during your freshman season. Did Jason White talk to you about how to get through that? How is it different this year going through some of the hype, compared to what you went through as a freshman?
Yeah, it’s easier, knowing what to expect.
When is your dad getting out (of prison)?
Actually, he’s in a halfway house right now, so maybe in a couple of months.
What kind of impact is that going to have, with him back in your life?
It’s going to be crazy. Being able to look in the stands, see him in the stands. Maybe be the extra drive I need. If everything goes good, he should be there.
I read where you had a conversation with (NFL scout) Gil Brandt. Can you talk about some of the things he was counseling you on?
Just staying focused, always being a leader. Things like that. Basically told me, continuing to do the things I had been doing.
Did he talk about agents, people to stay away from?
He said they’re going to be there. He said do the right things. It’s not about the things you want. Taking care of business off the field, classroom.
Size, speed, vision, strength. What do you think is your best attribute and what do you need to work on the most as you look ahead to the NFL?
I’d say it’s my vision. I’d say the thing I have to work on most is my pad level. Get my pads down a little lower. Improving on picking up the blocks.
You haven’t caught a lot of passes. Is that just a function of the offense or is that something you have to work on?
I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I think this year you’ll see a little more of it.
I was talking to a player from Oklahoma State, and he said, “I’ve gotten a good hit on him a few times, but every time I hit him good, he says he just tripped.” Has anyone ever hit you good?
I’ve gotten hit. I guess I would say (Texas’) Derrick Johnson hit me. I got a deep thigh bruise. That’s the only one I can remember like that.
Are you having fun with all this? This year, you are the Reggie Bush, you are the Matt Leinart, you’re the signature along with Brady Quinn? Are you having fun with the spotlight like this.
It’s OK. But me, I’m real laid back. Just chill. Sometimes you get kind of shaky. But it’s something you have to go through.
If you could be the Heisman winner or the first pick in the draft, which would be cooler for you?
Ooh. I’d say the Heisman Trophy winner. That’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid. Being able to get that would mean a lot.
Are the coaches doing anything specifically to keep you fresh for the bigger games, or are they just going to run you and run you and run you some more.
I’ll be prepared for whatever. Whatever they decide to do. Run me 20 plays or whatever.
You probably would have been the first pick in the draft had you been able to come out after your freshman year. Knowing what’s out there for you, how do you possibly stay focused, knowing you’ve got all those millions out there waiting for you?
Just continue to do what you did to get you here in the first place. Not thinking ahead. Just thinking of what’s coming each day, take it day to day. Taking it game by game.
I wanted to ask you about the offense and the new coordinator (Kevin Wilson). Can you talk about the things you like that are and the things you’re not too cracked about with the new coordinator?
I’m very excited about our new coordinator. There’s nothing I don’t like about the things we seem to be adding to the offense. We’re all learning it right now. Whatever they put out there in front of us, we’re going to do our best to get it done. Really nothing to complain about.
Do you like the fact that sometimes you’re pulled off the field in certain situations? Third-and-long or certain situations where they feel they need a different back in the game? Do you feel like you’ve done enough to warrant staying on the field?
Me being the competitive person I am, I’m not wanting to come off the field. To sit there and say, no, I don’t want to stay in, I’d be lying to you. The coaches make decisions based on what they think is going to work. I’m all for that.
Is that what you hope to get out of this season, to be a back that can be in the game every down?
Exactly. I feel I could have done a little more of that last year. But being an every-down back, that’s the back I am.
Off-season, your coaching staff had been critical of the workouts last season. Do you feel as a team you’ve got a better understanding of the work it takes?
Exactly. Exactly. That’s one thing that hit this group the most. They understand what it takes to be like the 2000 team. A lot of guys have improved with their attitude. It’ll be real nice to see how this season comes.
I’ve never gotten the impression that you’ve been a rah-rah guy or that you speak up a lot. Have you changed in that regard?
You’ve got to change. You’ve got to be a leader. I’m looking around, looking at the offensive line, the quarterback, the receivers. Lot of young guys. Even though we came in at the same time, it’s time for you to be a leader. You’ve got to try to be more vocal.
With the new NCAA rules, you’re no longer allowed to wear your trademark visor. Does that bother you at all?
It don’t bother me at all. To be honest, I was thinking of taking it off this year anyway. It don’t bother me at all. That’s football.
Talk about how optimistic you are about the offense?
Start off on the offensive line. We’ve got some big dudes, coming in from junior colleges, Branndon Braxton. Some big guys working hard, trying to make the offensive line solid. Got Rhett coming back at quarterback. Got a young group of receivers that came out last year, really put up some good numbers. Allen Patrick back there helping us carry the load. I really feel like, if we play as a team, we’ll be pretty good this year.