Peters will be back at UW again on April 2 for the Huskies’ Pro Day workout with NFL scouts. By then, Peters hopes to have fully closed the chapter on the ugly ending to his UW career.
Before moving forward, Marcus Peters came back.
Peters returned to the University of Washington last week and met with coach Chris Petersen, who just three months earlier had dismissed the star cornerback from the Huskies program.
“It was an excellent conversation,” Peters said. “It felt good to be back in Seattle.”
Marcus Peters file
Ht: 6-0. Wt: 198
Pos: Cornerback. Age: 22
High school: McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.)
UW highlights: He was second-team All-Pac-12 in his junior season. In 2013 win over Oregon State, he had two interceptions and forced a fumble that he recovered.
With an invitation from Petersen, Peters will be back at UW again on April 2 for the Huskies’ Pro Day workout with NFL scouts. By then, Peters hopes to have fully closed the chapter on the ugly ending to his UW career.
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Regret isn’t the right word.
In assessing his shortcomings with Huskies last year, that word doesn’t register in Peters’ vocabulary. He does not, however, blame others for his Nov. 6 dismissal.
“I could’ve been a lot more patient with things, you know?” Peters said in a phone interview. “But I don’t take back anything I did. Everything went the way that it was supposed to go. It was God’s plan to go that way, and you move on.”
Yes, Peters is eager to move on, toward the promise of an NFL future. In a recent round of media interviews, he opened up about his struggles to adapt under Petersen and UW’s new coaching staff — the types of questions he will certainly have to answer from NFL executives and scouts at the NFL Combine starting Tuesday in Indianapolis.
Peters might be the best cornerback in this year’s NFL draft, but he is a “huge red flag,” one scout recently told The Seattle Times.
“From all the stuff that he’s been involved in and the chances he’s gotten and the immaturity he’s shown, it’s going to be tough for him,” the scout added.
It’s a vital week, then, for Peters to repair his image, to shift the focus back on his talents.
To help him in that regard, Peters leaned on his family when he returned home to Oakland, Calif. He also received advice from Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch, a close family friend.
“I talk to that guy every day,” Peters said. “He was excellent help. He gave me some words of wisdom and we talked about some great things between us when everything went down (at UW).”
With a potent mix of talent and confidence, Peters often looked like the archetype of an NFL cornerback while at UW. He had 11 interceptions, 35 pass breakups and 129 tackles in three years as a starter. He thrived on in-your-face, man-to-man coverage. He relished the brash, never-back-down smack talk, a style that was encouraged, if not celebrated, during Steve Sarkisian’s tenure as UW coach.
By contrast, conforming to Petersen’s disciplined demands wasn’t natural for Peters. From the outside, he looked like a jagged corner asked to fit into a perfect square.
“I was used to doing things a certain way,” he said.
The most dramatic, and the most public, incident happened during the Huskies’ narrow victory over Eastern Washington on Sept. 6. Peters head-butted an EWU receiver, drawing what Petersen later called a “stupid” personal-foul penalty that negated a third-down stop. Peters was outraged on the sideline, throwing his helmet and gloves and arguing with UW assistants. “You can’t change me,” he yelled.
That prompted a one-game suspension the following week against Illinois. (Peters had also been suspended for the first quarter of the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl because he was late turning in a class assignment.)
On Nov. 4, two days before his dismissal was announced, Peters said he was excused from that Tuesday practice so he could attend a court hearing related to his citation for driving with a suspended license. (He was in Seattle last week to pay the fine for that citation.)
At practice that first week in November, Peters said he had a playful argument with a graduate-assistant coach, but he insisted there was no “final straw” incident that to led to his dismissal.
“You’d have to ask Coach Pete that,” he said.
At the time, Petersen didn’t offer a detailed explanation on his reasons for the dismissal. “It’s never one thing. We’re not going to dismiss a guy because it’s one thing,” Petersen said Nov. 6. “That’s not what we’re in this business (to be) about. But when you feel like it just can’t work, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”
One NFL scout claimed to witness Peters choking an assistant coach during a UW practice. Peters denied that, and UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake steadfastly denied it, too.
“We had our issues with Marcus,” Kwiatkowski told the Times in December, “but there was never any physical altercation.”
Peters is eager to move on. He has a 4-month-old son, Carson — born early on Oct. 18, the same day UW played at Oregon — to help care for and a reputation to rebuild. There’s a lot of work to be done, starting at the combine this week.
If his perspective has changed — and it appears it has, at least enough — his confidence hasn’t.
“I still feel like I’m the best corner in the draft,” he said, “but I know I have a lot to prove.”