The Kentucky football team will open 2019 training camp not knowing if Xavier Peters will be able to take the field this fall. The outside linebacker transfer from Florida State told KSR he hopes to hear from the NCAA before the season begins.
“It’s pretty difficult but it was worth it coming back for my son. I just turned in my letter yesterday, so hopefully I can get my results back from the NCAA two weeks from now,” Peters said at UK Football Media Day.
Until the NCAA weighs in, Peters will fully participate in practice, although the coaches will likely give the first team reps at Jack linebacker to Josh Paschal or Jordan Wright.
“I approach practicing like I know I’m playing on the 31st guaranteed, but you know how the NCAA goes. It’s an iffy thing. It’s most likely for me because it’s my kid, not like a death in the family or just me being a spoiled butt. It’s worth the wait. It was all worth coming back for my son.”
A Cincinnati native, Peters initially picked Florida State to get as far away from town as possible. He knew he needed to avoid bad influences at home, the same home for his young son. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Kentucky fits perfectly.
“Once I was there (Tallahassee), I started thinking and doing my research on why I need to come back to be by my son. Cincinnati, I can’t be in Cincinnati. There’s too many bad role models. It’s too close to home. I just needed a good 80 miles away from my son where I know it’s drivable and a good distance to see him.”
Part of his research was simply returning home to see his son. After the last trip, enough was enough.
“The part that really got me was when I came back home from Christmas break, my son was walking. When I left, he was crawling. What made me really scared is that I would come back home and he’d be riding a bike or something.”
Peters expects to receive some help from his former Florida State head coach, Willie Taggart. If so, it will only help his case even further.
“He said even if he was in my shoes, he would understand why I’m moving back. It was just a hard decision for me. I got caught up in the hype with the school. He knows exactly where I’m coming from when it comes to my son.”
Taggart may help Peters play right away at UK, even though he wishes it was in Tallahassee. Peters was a projected starter for the Seminoles this fall after redshirting as a freshman.
“We seen a couple clips when he was at Florida State. Here’s what people don’t understand. All these guys transferring, they’re transferring because they’re not going to play,” Vince Marrow said on Kentucky Roll Call. “Xavier Peters was probably going to start. They did not want him to leave. He totally left — and I admire him — for his son, to be closer to his son.”
If Peters is granted a waiver to play right away, Kentucky will have a stout front seven that features a a fearsome 240-pound pass rusher that can run a 4.5 40-yard dash.
“I’m going to bring the energy, I’m going to stay loyal to my fan base and I’m going to always, ALWAYS bring it on third downs,” Peters said. “I want BBN to depend on me when it comes to those hard plays, those third down, third and two plays; I’m going to bring my all for them.”