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18 Years Later, New Seahawks RB Adrian Peterson Finally Set to Play For Pete Carroll

Nearly two decades later, Carroll still is disappointed Peterson spurned USC in favor of Oklahoma. But with his team desperate for help on offense anywhere they can find it, he's excited to finally coach the veteran back, who he hopes has enough tread on his tires to spark Seattle's run game.

RENTON, WA - One of the top recruits in the entire country starring for Palestine High School in eastern Texas back in 2003, newly-signed Seahawks running back Adrian Peterson had numerous blue chip programs aiming to lure him to sign with them.

Among those schools interested in landing the consensus five-star prospect, USC had sights set on him following Reggie Bush's footsteps as the school's next elite ball carrier. Peterson recalled being pulled out of class by his high school coach and looking out a glass window from the athletic office that oversaw the school's basketball court. Down below, already sporting plenty of gray in his hair, then-Trojans coach Pete Carroll could be seen playfully chucking up three pointers and jump shots.

At the time, Peterson didn't dare challenge the hot-handed Carroll to a shooting contest, which was probably a wise idea considering the potential for NCAA violations. But he met with the legendary coach for the first time on that very court, hearing his recruiting pitch and what USC had to offer him as a possible destination to continue his football career.

"It was so real for me being from East Texas and knowing a lot about Pete Carroll at the time. Here he is in little Palestine, Texas, coming to recruit me," Peterson smiled. "I remember just talking to him and him giving me his spiel. Ultimately, I ended up taking an official visit out there to USC."

After whittling his decision down to two schools, Peterson opted to stay closer to home and signed his letter of intent to play at Oklahoma instead of USC. In three seasons in Norman, even while missing seven games during his junior season with a collarbone injury, he would rush for over 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns before being selected in the first round by the Vikings in the 2007 NFL Draft.

But even though Peterson decided not to commit to USC for college ball, he has always held Carroll in high regard. Now in his 15th NFL season, a remarkable feat at a position that traditionally has a very short shelf life, the 36-year old veteran will finally get a chance to play for him nearly 20 years after making that fateful decision to sign with the Sooners.

Speaking with local reporters for the first time since signing to Seattle's practice squad on Wednesday, Peterson indicated he's had interest in playing for the energetic coach since he vaulted to the NFL to join the Seahawks back in 2010.

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"I never was a guy that was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to spend my entire career playing for the Vikings.’ I always wanted to bounce around and experience different cities and things like that," Peterson reflected. "I remember thinking to myself that everybody leaves Minnesota and goes up to Seattle to win a championship. You think about Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Kevin [Williams], those guys. I’m just saying, ‘Maybe I need to make my way up there as well.’”

Few running backs in NFL history can match Peterson's surefire Hall of Fame resume. Along with being fifth all-time in rushing yards (14,902) and fourth all-time in rushing touchdowns (119), he's been a First-Team All-Pro selection four times, won an MVP award in 2012, and been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. At this stage of his career, from an individual standpoint, he doesn't have anything else left to prove.

But Peterson still loves to play the game, as evidenced by the fact he eagerly jumped at the opportunity to sign with Seattle despite the team's poor 3-8 record and last place standing in the NFC West. After not quite hitting his stride in three games with Tennessee earlier this year before being released, he believes he can still make positive contributions for Carroll's team both on and off the field to help the team win.

"I feel like there’s a lot I can add to the run game and inspire these young guys as well," Peterson said. "Make those guys work harder when they see me out there pretty much going full speed during a walkthrough 14 years in, that’ll make them kind of pick up their tempo a little more as well. I feel like I’ll be able to add to the running back room and help get this running game going.”

With the ink on his practice squad contract still drying, it remains unclear whether or not the Seahawks will need Peterson on Sunday against the 49ers. Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer, who both sat out last week's loss to Washington with hamstring and calf injuries respectively, each were full participants in Thursday's practice. Alex Collins, who has started the past seven games in place of Chris Carson, was limited with a lingering groin issue.

Keeping that in mind, Peterson's status will boil down to how quickly he acclimates to his new surroundings with limited practice time and which other backs are healthy enough to play in Week 13. The team also has undrafted rookie Josh Johnson on the practice squad with one game day elevation remaining as another option if necessary.

Regardless, after playing for five teams in the past five seasons, Peterson has plenty of experience adapting quickly to new teams and learning a new offense. Viewing the Seahawks' scheme as a better fit for his skill set than the one he played in with the Titans and eager to get to work for Carroll and his staff, he doesn't expect the learning curve to be a difficult one and has the utmost confidence he will ready to suit up if called upon.

“That’s definitely a goal for me. It’s a goal for me, but that’s up to the coaches and the staff and see how I finish off this week. I’m sure they’ll make a decision based off that.”