CRF running back Peterson switches to outside linebacker

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FIU Panthers running back Shaun Peterson Jr., seen here running the ball against LIU last season, moves to outside linebacker this season.

FIU Panthers running back Shaun Peterson Jr., seen here running the ball against LIU last season, moves to outside linebacker this season.

FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Shaun Peterson Jr., who entered this spring as the heir apparent to the FIU starting running back position, said Tuesday he had moved to an outside linebacker.

Peterson played running back in his first four years at FIU, but he was a two-way star at Nova High in Broward.

He also has a great linebacker frame at 6-3 and 215 pounds.

“It’s been going well,” Peterson said of his transition. “I make consistent plays.”

The change is in line with the philosophy of new FIU football coach Mike MacIntyre, who has said since joining in December that he would try players in different positions.

“It was a mutual decision,” Peterson said. “(MacIntyre) told me about it. He said, ‘Do you want to try that?’ I said “of course”.'”

MacIntyre is to replace D’vonte Price, who has led the FIU in rushing each of the past two seasons and is now the Panthers’ top prospect for this month’s NFL Draft.

Before the position change, Peterson was the most experienced running back in the FIU with 478 career rushing yards, a 4.6 average and four touchdowns.

A graduate of Miami Central, Lexington Joseph is now FIU’s most likely starter at running back. Joseph was second on the Panthers in rushing yards last year (273). He averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season, and he made his mark for the first time at FIU when he kicked off for a touchdown in 2020.

FIU also has other options for running back, including EJ Wilson, who rushed for 239 yards and averaged 5.7 last year. Kejon Owens, who is also from Miami Central, and Hosea Robinson are also looking for playing time.

Beyond that, real freshman Antonio Patterson is expected to arrive in time for the season this fall.

“We have good backs,” Joseph said. “We are all in competition.

“I know we can all have an impact, but I really want to be the starter.”

Joseph said he was impressed with Peterson at linebacker.

“Shaun is an athlete,” Joseph said. “He was a top linebacker right out of high school. We knew he could play both.

“He felt he could make our team better as an outside linebacker. He’s only been at linebacker for a few weeks, but he’s making plays. He tackled me several times.

THIS AND THAT

The Panthers’ spring training will conclude with Saturday’s “showcase” event, which begins at 6 p.m. at FIU Stadium. Besides football, the event – which offers free entry for all – will include a row of food trucks; interactive games for children; competitions and prizes; and appearances by cartoon characters and superheroes. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

Maleek Williams, buried on the FIU running back depth chart with just 18 carries for 84 yards the past three years, also moved to linebacker. He is a 5-11 and 225 pounds who started his career at the University of Arkansas.

MacIntyre said the Panthers could add a few transfers this summer. “Once all of our spring practices are complete, we’ll know what our needs are,” MacIntyre said. “We may also have transfers leaving our program.”

FIU candidates to kick off this fall include Sharod Johnson, Tyrese Chambers and Jacolby Hewitt. Chambers is the likely punt return.

Special teams coach Ricky Brumfield said MacIntyre gave him the “wiggle room” to use any player – starter or reserve – in his unit.

“At the same time, you have to be smart,” Brumfield said when asked about using starters on special teams. “You want to be limited in how you use them.”

Jordan Doelling, who is currently in his native Australia, is due to enroll in FIU this summer. He will likely be the FIU starting punter this fall.

This story was originally published April 5, 2022 3:43 p.m.

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