Former Alma Football Player Headed to the NIFL to Continue Football Career
It isn’t hard to get offensive coordinator John Leister going on any particular topic — but today is different. He speaks briefly and to the point and there’s a gleam in his eye as he speaks of a former player.
“I played Division I football,” says the former Michigan State quarterback and two-time Spartan captain, “and there wasn’t anyone in front of me better than he is.”
It is this support that is driving Josh Peters — in his car, loaded to overflowing — to Lakeland, Fla, where he’ll open pre-season camp Feb. 25 with the Lakeland Thunderbolts of the National Indoor Football League (NIFL).
“Coach Leister and I are as different as day and night — and he’ll tell you that. But one thing that I respected about him was that he was honest…he was who he was. He has a wealth of life experiences to share. There have been many times when I have been going through things at home or wherever and I could go in to his office and talk to him.”
Peters evidently was listening while Leister, a former professional quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, spoke, signing with an agent after he completed his college career with the Scots, leading the Maroon and Cream to the 2002 MIAA Championship and earning All-MIAA honors three times.
After playing three games for the Lincoln (Nebraska) Capitols of the NIFL nearly a year ago, Peters returns to the league with the Thunderbolts this season. With some of the best players in the country lining up with and against him, Peters could easily feel out of his league. The MIAA may be the nation’s oldest collegiate athletic conference but it is by no means the largest.
“The first time I trained with my agent (Anthony Munoz) I had on Alma College shorts and the guy to my right was wearing Michigan State shorts and the guy to my left had on Michigan shorts,” relates Peters. “It was eye-opening — but it’s a confidence thing. If you’re playing at this level, you are where you are for a reason. I use [coming from a Division III school] as motivation more than anything. For me, it’s an opportunity to make people realize where I’m from.”
And sometimes, to get where you’re going you have to try a different route. Peters made his college football debut at a Division II school in Michigan and, as he says, the program was based on “things I didn’t respect.”
“Coming to Alma really opened my eyes to how much the coaches care and what a tight-knit group of kids are on campus. Your team is over 100 guys — you cannot do anything on campus without knowing someone. The Alma football highlight for me was the brotherhood and camaraderie more than anything else.”
So Peters hits the road today, stopping in Cincinnati, Ohio to train with Munoz and a handful of players bound for NFL riches. Then, for the offensive lineman, it’s on to Lakeland where he’ll work out with guys from the Big Ten, ACC, SEC and beyond. Guys from bigger campuses, with more recognizable school logos, who have played in nationally televised games and flown comfortably to every college game they have played. But Peters is ready. Alma College may be a small school in the middle of Michigan, but the Scots play big.
Besides, as Peters knows, “Once the pads go on it’s a totally different story — it doesn’t matter where you went to college.”
Posted: Wed, February 2nd, 2005 at 10:04AM