2020 3 Star S Zay Peterson Commits To UofL Football

Zay Peterson
Photo Courtesy of @ZayPeterson Twitter Account

Scott Satterfield and his staff have secured another commitment. This time from 2020 3 Star S Zay Peterson of NC.

Peterson is a 6’1 190 lbs S that plays for Clayton High School in Clayton, NC. He chose UofL over offers from Colorado, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and UCF, among others. Cort Dennison was the lead recruiter for Peterson according to 247sports.

Watching Peterson’s highlights, the two things most notable upon viewing them are his aggression in attacking ball carriers and his ability to absolutely obliterate whomever he has in his sights. He displays good play recognition and he shows good speed in flying all over the field to break up passes and make tackles. He is a physical player that loves hitting hard and will be a huge asset as a S in the box helping against the run, but can also cover man on man or zone.

With that overview, let’s dive into a little more detail about Peterson’s skills on the football field.


The first highlight on Zay Peterson’s Hudl tape is of him seeing that a RB is running towards his side of the field and running full speed up to crush the RB. I mean he wraps up and absolutely destroys him. That highlight set the tone for the rest of the video.

Peterson is just a destroyer on the field. So many times you will see a RB running full speed and you think he will just run right over any possible tackler. Then Peterson enters the picture and BOOM! It’s as if the RB literally hit a wall.

The one thing you can be sure of with Peterson is that he his intention isn’t just to make the tackle, its to make the ball carrier feel the pain and remember him.

Attacking Style

Peterson plays an attacking style at S. Some safeties like to sit back, see the play the develop, and then, if it’s a running play, wait for the ball carrier to get to them and bring them down. Peterson is not that type of S. Once Peterson recognizes run, he goes into attack mode. He doesn’t wait for the ball carrier to get to him. Instead, he runs full speed to the ball carrier with bad intentions. When Peterson gets there, it ends with him blasting the runner and the runner being violently put into the ground. Attack, attack, attack, may be Peterson’s motto for life because that’s what he does best.

Play Recognition

Peterson, throughout his highlights, shows the ability to recognize what a play is and then attack to make a play. In the first play of his highlights, Peterson is in a back pedal preparing to play coverage, likely a zone. Immediately, he recognizes run and gets going full speed to the line of scrimmage and eventually, as mentioned above, destroys the RB.

When he sees pass, he breaks on the receiver and either gets a hand on the ball or crushes the receiver causing a pass breakup. There a couple of nice plays, one on a deep ball and one on a shallow cross where he breaks on a pass and knocks it down.

Another play on his highlights that exemplifies his play recognition is a bubble screen. The offense throws a bubble screen and actually has it set up well. Two blockers for two defenders and no one else on that side of the field for the defense. However, Peterson is one of those defenders and recognizes the screen. He gets a head of steam, runs right through the surprised blocker, and makes the tackle.


To compliment his hitting ability, Peterson has good speed. This is evident throughout the film. He’s all over the field making plays.

In one particular play, at the snap, he breaks toward the left hash. The RB is given the ball and runs to the right hash. It appears the RB is going to the house for 6, but Peterson is able to run from the other side of the field and drive the RB into the ground.

In numerous other plays he’s playing well off the line of scrimmage, but is able to fly upfield and either stop the RB for a minimal gain or a loss of yards.


Peterson is just so physical. For a 6’1 190 lbs S, he loves to muck it up at the line of scrimmage and bring down RBs; some of which are bigger than him. He seems to relish contact, always seeking it out, always attempting to level any RB or WR in his path.


Peterson has a few highlights of him in coverage, both man and zone. He shows good fluidity in man, able to make quick changes in direction to stay with a WR. In zone, it allows him to really read the field and attack, which is when he’s at his best. He is good at breaking on the ball and breaking up the pass by getting his hand on the ball or just blasting the WR.

UofL is getting a hard hitting S that can play some coverage, but his greatest attribute is making plays in the box. He’s a guy that is very good at recognizing the development of a play quickly, attacking downhill, and either crushing a RB or crushing a WR trying to catch the ball. Peterson almost seems to be everywhere on the field due to his speed. When he does get to a ball carrier, he is physical and likes to lay the wood to them. So many times you see the RB or WR go flying to the ground or being driven into it.

Peterson reminds me a lot of two different former UofL safeties; Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. Both capable of covering in zone and some man, but at their best leveling WRs and RBs. I expect UofL to use him in a variety of ways, maybe as a hybrid LB/S. You can expect him to be around the line of scrimmage a lot, either by design or by him recognizing a play and blazing his way there. He can develop into an every down S and not just a specialist on certain downs. I have a feeling the coaches will work with him some on trying to get some interceptions as his speed could make him a good returner of them.

Regardless, what Coach Satterfield, Coach Brown, and company have is a player that will be a nightmare for opposing WRs and RBs. A player that will lay bruising hits and break up quite a few passes with them. Peterson has the potential to be a bonecrushing S that will be able to cause fumbles and cause quite a few incomplete passes due to his physicality and smarts. With the developmental abilities of the staff, Peterson could become an All-ACC type of performer. Time will tell, but great pickup by the staff.



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