By Phil Monson
Back in August at Iowa State football media day, Gilmore City native Levi Peters vowed to make an impact on the Cyclone football team in the 2013 season.
Did he ever.
The 5-foot-10, 213-pound reserve linebacker quickly earned a spot on Cyclone special teams and grabbed attention with his aggressive, bone-jarring tackles on the field and fun-loving approach to life off the field.
“My role was to play special teams and I took the opportunity and ran with it,” Peters said. “I ended up getting a lot of reps and a lot of playing time on special teams.”
“I took it and ran with it because the opportunities aren’t always there. But I got the chance and ran with it,” Peters said during an interview with the Independent last week while home on winter break.
When starting linebacker Luke Knott saw his season end pre-maturely because of an injury, Peters moved up to No. 2 on the defensive depth chart behind Jevohn Miller in late October.
“I got a few reps at linebacker in the Kansas State and TCU games,” Peters said.
Peters, a human missile on kickoffs, described the adrenaline rush going downfield on kickoffs and dialing in on making a block or tackle.
“My coach always told us before the season, ‘it’s a violent play so you guys better be ready.’ I was ready for that. I wanted to make a big collision. Every time I was running down the field. I wanted to at least hit someone, whether it was the wedge blocker, off-returner or the guy returning the ball,” Peters said.
Peters’ impact was obvious as he received the Jim Doran Outstanding Special Teams Player Award at the team banquet last month. He finished the year playing in all 12 games and recorded 15 tackles, including 10 solos and one fumble recovery.
Peters turned heads when he made a pancake block on a 270-pound lineman in the Baylor game on a kickoff play.
“There was an offensive tackle of theirs in the wedge. I just ran down there and put him on his butt. My teammates thought that was pretty cool doing that on the first kickoff,” Peters said.
Iowa State’s season didn’t go as planned, finishing with a 3-9 overall record. But the Cyclones suffered the consequences of playing a young team that was also decimated by injuries.
Peters himself played the final half of the season with a heavily bandaged hand as he broke a thumb against Texas Tech.
“I don’t think the record shows what type of football team we actually are. A couple of games could have gone either way. We are young and we have a lot of guys coming back next year,” Peters said. “I think we’re all looking forward to it. I don’t see any reason why we won’t have a great season next year.”
Off-season conditioning begins this week and classes resume Jan. 13, so Peters and the Cyclones are already setting their sights on 2014.
“We’ll be in the weight room lifting and running five days a week,” Peters said.
“My goal is to be a four-year contributor here at Iowa State. My one year of contributing is completed. So now I want more. I want more than special teams. I want to be out there playing defense. I’m going to put forth all the effort to get on defense and do whatever I can do,” Peters said.
The red-shirt freshman has settled on an academic major.
“It’s a full-time job playing football and you have to mix your classes in with it,” Peters said. “But I’m glad I’m here and I’m going to make the most of my opportunity in front of me.”
See complete story in the Jan. 2 issue of the Humboldt Independent Newspaper. Subscribe for complete access to both print and electronic issues of the Independent.