Former Gators linebacker legend Mike Peterson is coming home, according to a report from Chris Vannini of the Athletic.
Peterson, who currently serves as South Carolina’s outside linebackers coach under Shane Beamer, is expected to make the step up to Gainesville with the same title, plus the additional tag of “alumni liaison.” He’s served as the Gamecocks’ outside linebackers coach since 2016, when he got his true coaching debut under then-Florida coach Will Muschamp. Following Muschamp’s firing, Beamer chose to retain him on his staff; one year later, Florida is reportedly taking him back.
Not only will this move not be Peterson’s first stint in Gainesville- he played for years under Steve Spurrier from 1995-98 and won a national championship in 1996- it’s not even his second.
Peterson served as a grad assistant under Muschamp at Florida in 2013, when he returned to Gainesville to complete his degree. Upon graduating, Muschamp promoted him to the role of strength and conditioning coordinator, a role he kept until his departure after one year on Jim McElwain’s staff in 2015 to rejoin Muschamp in Columbia.
During his time at South Carolina, Peterson quickly became known for his recruiting prowess, most notably fending off LSU, Clemson, Georgia and pretty much the rest of the country for the services of five star defensive lineman Jordan Burch. He’s also become known for his ability to develop talent, something Florida has sorely lacked recently with its defensive coaches.
And that impressive start to his coaching career is tacked onto the brilliant career he’s already enjoyed as a player. As a result of his winning a national title in 1996, plus his first-team All-SEC selection in 1998, Mike Peterson was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. He also played in the NFL for a dozen years with the Colts, Jaguars, and Falcons.
Given all that, perhaps there’s no addition Billy Napier could make to his army that could truly be viewed as any more dynamic than Mike Peterson. Welcome home, Mike!