Most of you have probably heard the great news by now: Much-herald defensive tackle Kyle Peko is eligible to play for the Beavers this season, ending a saga that seemed destined for Simi Kuli status more than once. For those of you who aren’t aware of Simi Kuli, he was a 5-star defensive tackle who committed to OSU in 2008. But never made it to campus, despite numerous stories and rumors that he was close (or not) to being eligible.
And while Peko isn’t quite the prospect that Kuli was, he’s unquestionably one of the biggest defensive recruits the Beavers have landed. A 2013 Rivals 3-star, Peko was heavily recruited out of Cerritos Community College. He had nearly 20 offers, including from Michigan State, Nebraska, Baylor, Washington, and Utah. At 6-2, 295 pounds and sporting a sub-5.0 40-time, Peko was an ideal blend of size and athleticism.
But what’s truly impressive about Peko is that he never gave up, even when it seemed like many people (especially on the messages boards) wrote him off as another Kuli. He had plenty of motivation… the opportunity to realize his enormous potential, a chance to play in a Power 5 conference, getting married last year, welcoming a son in June, etc… And he did it!
It all speaks volumes of Peko’s commitment and dedication, even if wasn’t always evident. He’s the first person to admit he didn’t always take schoolwork seriously. Like so many talented JUCOs who never made it into OSU, it would’ve been easy for him to fade away, never to heard from again. However, Peko started getting serious last year about his classes, while practicing with the team. If he isn’t a textbook example of sticking things out and seeing them through, I don’t what is.
A cursory glance at his Twitter feed reveals a young man who is enjoying being a husband, father, a student-athlete, and now potentially a star on the field. Peko appears happy, focused, motivated, and ready to shine. You can’t help but root for the guy.
Kudos to Mike Riley’s and Gary Andersen’s staffs for sticking by Peko and providing him with the encouragement and support that he needed to become eligible. Let’s be honest, too — Peko obviously has a lot of upside for two different coaching staffs to invest so much time and effort in him. I bet former OSU defensive line coach Joe Seumalo must be smiling big now, as he always had high hopes for Peko.
So while he only has one year to play for the Beavers, don’t be surprised if Peko makes an immediate impact. He’s strong, athletic, and plays nasty. He and Jalen Grimble could be OSU’s most talented pair of defensive tackles since the Dwan Edward and Eric Manning. Peko and Grimble wreaking havoc in the middle would go along ways toward helping the Beavers exceed expectations this year.
Again, congrats to Peko and his family. This is a wonderful success story that hopefully continues to get bigger and bigger each week this season. Go Beavs! (RW)