Oklahoma football: Torrea Peterson proves kindness found anywhere on depth chart

The OU defensive tackle wanted to make a difference, so he reached out to Keegan Erbst and his Sequoyah Middle School friends.
by Jenni Carlson Published: November 12, 2012


photo - KEEGAN ERBST: Scott Erbst and his son Keegan watch the action on the field during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and Baylor University Bears (BU) at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Norman, Okla.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
KEEGAN ERBST: Scott Erbst and his son Keegan watch the action on the field during the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and Baylor University Bears (BU) at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Torrea Peterson didn't play a snap on Saturday. Didn't make a tackle. Didn't sack a quarterback.

But the Oklahoma defensive tackle had an impact.

A big one.

Peterson gave an amazing gift to four special boys on Saturday. Even though he is a reserve buried far enough on the depth chart that defensive line injuries and suspensions haven't garnered him any playing time, he loves football. Those four boys, middle schoolers who redefined what it means to be teammates and friends, reminded Peterson why he loves it.

“Sports is kind of how I coped with a lot of stuff,” Peterson said of his childhood. “I wasn't really a social person. I was shy.

“Sports kind of opened the door.”

Peterson was always the big kid growing up, and because he was a farm kid most interested in riding and roping, he didn't always find common ground with kids at school.

All of that led to teasing and bullying.

But when Peterson started playing football, it changed his life. There were a couple kids on the team who treated him right from the start, and even as other guys slowly accepted him, he was always thankful for the ones who were friendly and kind from the beginning.

“Kids can be mean,” he said. “It takes a lot for a group of young kids to kind of realize what's right and do the right thing.”

Imagine his surprise, then, when he stumbled across a story with details that nearly mirrored his.

It was a story that I had the honor to write.

Almost three weeks ago, I shared the tale of Keegan Erbst and his buddies. Keegan, an eighth grader at Sequoyah Middle School in Edmond, has muscular dystrophy. Having been in a wheelchair since fourth grade, he has never played a down of organized football and he never will.

This fall, though, his friends Lucas Coker, Colton James and Parker Tumelson decided that he needed to be part of the football team at Sequoyah. They got him a jersey, then surprised him with it. They asked him to come to the games and be on the sidelines.

They wanted him to be part of the team.

The story about the boys' friendship and kindness touched many. Numerous readers emailed and called to say what an example the boys were.

But one of the first phone calls that I received was from a deep-voiced man named Shawn Peterson. He said that his son Torrea, pronounced TORE-ee-ay, played football at OU and that he had seen the story on Keegan and his buddies the night before on NewsOK.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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