By Joe Scalzo
Dale Peterman is a talented junior college football player who will have several Division I options this summer if he can get his grades in order.
He’s also a father. And that obviously complicates things.
“I’ve missed out on two years of his life and I’m trying to make up for that,” said Peterman, an 2009 Ursuline High graduate who has attended two different junior colleges the past two years. “It’s been really hard.”
Peterman was an All-Ohio defensive back for the Irish in 2008 and is best known for his game-winning interception return for a touchdown in the regional final against Kirtland that season. Two weeks later, Ursuline won the first of three straight Division V state titles.
Peterman originally signed with Syracuse as a senior, but didn’t qualify academically. He instead spent one season at Georgia Military College, then played last fall for the City College of San Francisco.
“Coming from the type of neighborhood I came from, going to school was not the No. 1 goal in life,” Peterman said. “But college really grew on me. I’m doing better now.”
Peterman is back in Youngstown now, taking online classes from City College. If everything goes as planned, he’ll earn his associates degree this spring, then sort through offers from Syracuse, Akron, Toledo and Youngstown State. If not, he’ll need to take summer classes.
Either way, Peterman said he’s “100 percent sure” he’ll be playing college football this fall.
“Right now, YSU is definitely the leader because of my son, [Dale Jr.],” Peterman said. “If I go there, I’d be right up the street from him.”
At GMC, Peterman played with future SEC players such as Jakar Hamilton (Georgia) and Kaleb Broome (South Carolina) as five players went to Division I schools. He played with similar talent in San Francisco, a program that has won eight national titles, including four in the last decade.
“Most of the teams we faced were passing, spread-type teams,” he said. “I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and faster but my biggest improvement was mentally, as far as reading offenses and coverages.
“I think I’m twice the player I was in high school.”
Peterman watched YSU’s first spring scrimmage from the sidelines, where he saw former teammates such as RB Allen Jones and WR Jake Dragovich.
“I think they’re going to be pretty good,” Peterman said of the Penguins. “Allen Jones, he’s one of those playmakers that gets me hyped up. He’ll get up from a play and scream and it gets you motivated to play.
“And Jake has improved so much since high school. He always had good hands but he’s gotten much better physically.”
YSU has several other Irish ties — head coach Eric Wolford is an Ursuline graduate and cornerbacks coach Rollen Smith coached there for 20 years — and with the team’s uncertainty at defensive back, the coaches have made it clear he’d be a welcome addition.
“The coaches told me I could come in and make an immediate impact in the secondary,” Peterman said. “I think I can come in and fight for a starting position.”