UPDATE: Peters was ruled ELIGIBLE to play this season by the NCAA on September 10th
The college football season officially kicks off this week, beginning with Clemson versus Georgia Tech on Thursday night and followed by a full slate of games on Saturday.
When perennial power Ohio State steps on to the field for the new year, they will be led by a new quarterback in Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia and was ruled immediately eligible by the NCAA for the 2019-2020 season. Similarly, Tate Martell was competing for the starting job at Miami after transferring from the aforementioned Ohio State.
However, one player who has still yet to learn his fate from the NCAA is University of Kentucky linebacker Xavier Peters.
Peters transferred to UK from Florida State in order to be closer to his son, who lives in nearby Cincinnati. He would undoubtedly be an impact player for the Kentucky defense this season, but though he has been practicing with the team, he still does not know if he will be allowed to step on the field in uniform on Saturday, much less during any point this season. It would appear that due to the fact that Peters is not a high profile quarterback and Kentucky is not Ohio State or The U, resolving his eligibility has not been high on the NCAA’s priority list.
At UK’s Media Day earlier this month, Peters acknowledged that the NCAA is inconsistent in its transfer rules:
“It’s an iffy thing. It’s (the wait) most likely for me because it’s my kid, not like a death in the family or just me being a spoiled butt. It’s worth the wait. It was all worth coming back for my son.”
When asked about Peters’ status, head coach Mark Stoops was unable to provide much of an update himself.
“I really don’t. I’m unsure. We had to do quite a bit of legwork to get everything updated, all the information we needed for the appeal. I don’t know when that will happen. We’ll just continue to work with him like anybody else. I mean, obviously he can’t take first team reps right now till we figure that out.”
In regards to Peters’ ability and potential, Stoops said, “Again, he’s a physical guy. He’s got all the talent. He’s got the ability to be a pass-rusher. He’s good on his feet. He can do a lot of things. He’s really what you’re looking for as your prototypical outside linebacker. Whenever that time comes, we’ll be ready to go. I don’t know when that will happen. To us, he’s just like a freshman. It’s unknown. We know physically he has all the ability. We’re excited to work with him.”
The NCAA has proven themselves to be very inconsistent on this issue. Players transferring to big name programs because they couldn’t win the starting job at their previous school seem to not even bat an eye at the NCAA offices, but have ruling harshly on players transferring to smaller power five schools for more legitimate reasons, such as Peters. Or Illinois tight end Luke Ford, who transferred from Georgia to Illinois to be closer to his ill grandfather, but was denied eligibility because his grandfather is outside of the 100 mile radius of Illinois’ campus that the NCAA has arbitrarily put in place as a barrier to transfers, and also seems to arbitrarily enforce. Or Brock Hoffman, who transferred to Virginia Tech to care for his sick mother, but was ruled ineligible for this season. The maddening, unsensical list goes on and on.
No matter which was the NCAA rules, many would agree this process has taken far too long and has proven far too flimsy for players like Peters and others in similar situations. If there is one thing we can count on the NCAA to do, it is to make a ruling with complete disregard to common sense.