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Etowah's Peterson signs with Liberty

Etowah High School wide receiver Darrin Peterson puts on a Liberty University cap during a signing ceremony at the high school on national signing day Wednesday. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)

ATTALLA — Etowah wide receiver Darrin Peterson is taking his playmaking ability outside the state of Alabama in picking Liberty University on Wednesday’s national signing day.

“I liked being there. It’s a nice place. When I went there I felt welcomed and everybody was excited to have me there and I was excited to be there when I went on a visit,” Peterson said. “It just felt like it was the place I should be.”

Liberty, which has a new coach in Turner Gill, who was hired in December, is getting a 6-foot-3, 195 pound all-around athlete in Peterson, who has 4.4 speed in the 40 and is known for his ability to make plays.

“When I went up there and met the coordinator he was already telling me plays that he wanted  me to run, so I guess he knew I was coming,” Peterson said. “They just want me to come there and be a playmaker and that’s what I’m going to do.”

A Class 5A, All-State player, Peterson caught 65 passes for 1,393 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games as a senior. He also ran for a touchdown and returned three kickoffs for scores, ending the season with an average of 37 yards per kick return.

Auburn University, where Peterson went for a visit last weekend, Texas State, Tuskegee University and Jacksonville State were among colleges showing an interest in Peterson.

Etowah coach Sam McCorkle said Liberty coaches liked that Peterson is a speedy playmaker who developed his skills through multiple sports, including basketball and track.

“We’ve talked to the coaches there and they lost some receivers this past year and I think he’ll have a chance to play some as a freshman,” McCorkle said. “I think he’s going to be a great player for them. He’s a playmaker. He can make the big play.”

In a video posted Wednesday on Liberty’s website,, Gill described Peterson as an “outstanding player” and said he was pleased to have him sign.

“He has unparalleled skills,” Gill said. “He’s a great, great basketball player, a great football player. He averaged over 21 yards per catch. He was a guy who did some great things in track. He had I think three runs over 90 yards. I could go on and on about him.”

Peterson was a four-year starter for the Blue Devils. He caught 106 receptions for 2,278 yards and 21 touchdowns in his high school career.

“One of these days I’m going to Lynchburg, Va., and watch him graduate,” McCorkle said, noting Peterson’s years of hard work were paying off with Wednesday’s scholarship signing.

“He’s a great football player, but a greater person,” McCorkle said.

Peterson announced his decision in an afternoon signing ceremony at the high school with his parents, Darrin Sr. and Amellia, along with his grandmother, Janice Sherrell, seated next to him and beaming with pride.

Before putting on a Liberty Flames cap, indicating his college choice, Peterson thanked his coaches, family and teammates.

“I’ll never forget this place I came from,” he said.