football Edit

Better Know a Badger: Four-Star OLB Darryl Peterson

Most of Wisconsin's 2021 class -- both for the football and men's basketball programs -- will be heading to Madison shortly, though Paul Chryst's team already welcomed seven players as mid-year enrollees in January. has kicked off its annual "Better Know a Badger" series, where we check in with the incoming freshmen as they begin the transition from being prep standouts to college athletes. In 2021, we include some transfers as well.

Miss some? Check out the links below: Basketball: C Chris Vogt | Football: QB Deacon Hill | CB Ricardo Hallman | WR Skyler Bell | S Hunter Wohler | ILB Bryan Sanborn | OL Nolan Rucci | RB Antwan Roberts | OLB Ayo Adebogun |

Four-star outside linebacker Daryl Peterson.
Four-star outside linebacker Daryl Peterson.

Darryl Peterson announced his decision to play for Wisconsin on June 1, 2020 -- during a time frame where the program received a handful of commitments between May 25 and June 22. The four-star prospect and No. 245 player in the country for the 2021 class received offers from such Power Five programs as Alabama, Boston College, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and West Virginia. He put pen to paper and officially became a Badger during the early signing period in December.

Peterson spoke with on May 19 about a variety of topics as the days tick down before his arrival at Wisconsin. Questions and his answers have been edited for clarity.

I was looking at your senior highlights, and I saw 44 tackles 17.5 sacks. Seems like you had a pretty good senior season. How did your last year as a high school player go in your eyes?

DP: I thought it went pretty well, and then we capped it off with a state championship. It was kind of the cherry on top so I think it went pretty good, especially with the circumstances with the pandemic being kind of the last phase of being still kind of wild. I just want to say that. So I think it went pretty well.

In what areas do you feel you developed further, not just in your senior season, but this past year in general?

DP: My first step's gotten a lot quicker out. That's one thing I've been kind of key on, especially with me going to that two-point stance next season. So being in that two-point stance, my first step has been big, and I've been working on that a ton.

How have you been preparing to take to get to Madison being what just about a month away from getting to Wisconsin? What have you been working on, what have you been training on as you become a college student-athlete?

DP: I've been working on a lot of pass rush stuff. Got to stay tight with that stuff, and this would be my first time dropping into coverage so I've been working a lot of cover stuff, getting my technique right, getting my feet together, working on footwork and speed, and like I told you, first step. So stuff like that.

Where are you sitting right now for height and weight?

DP: I'm about 6-foot-2 and a half and about 250 [pounds].

Have you seen increases in your weight since your junior year? You say you're 250 now, but have you seen that grow in the past year as well?

DP: So last year, I was at about 235, and I was kind of fluctuating between 235, 237, or I fell to 235, or whatever the case may be. And then this year, I kind of just after our football season, I kind of cut fat or like a diet to shed a lot of fat. And then I just went down to 235 again just about a month or two ago. Then I built it back up with a little bit more muscle, so that was pretty fun.

Before you leave to get to college, who is the best player you've gone against to this day?

DP: Oh that's a good question. I have to say David Wohlabaugh [Jr.]. He's an early enrollee at Kentucky right now. He went to Walsh Jesuit in the Ohio area. So I'd say here's the best tackle, I went against last year.

You signed in December with your 2021 classmates during the early signing period, but which schools, if any, tried to keep in contact or tried to recruit you even after you verbally committed until you signed your National Letter of Intent?

DP: Michigan State was a big one. Clemson tried to come late. Talked to Alabama a little bit, but not too much after I committed, and West Virginia was big as well.

How hard is it when you're committed, and you're getting those talks, those communications from those schools? How is your thought process through it all, being committed and then still hearing from those programs?

DP: For me, it wasn't hard because I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, so for me, it wasn't too hard because I knew Madison was the place I wanted to be.

How often have you been in contact with the Badger staff with your arrival on campus coming soon, and who are you talking with the most at the moment?

DP: I talk to Coach [Bobby] April every week, if not every other week at some point. Coach [Joe] Rudolph texts me. He recruited me so I talk to him about once or twice a month maybe.

How's your relationship with outside linebackers Coach Bobby April III grown since you signed in December and how have they discussed using you at that outside linebacker position?

DP: Our relationship has grown a ton, but I think quarantine and stuff helped us a lot because we were able to talk I think more than we would have had it been a normal world, Zoom calls and stuff like that. So I feel like our relationship is really good and I'm excited to have it grow over these next three to four years.

And as far as how they plan on using me, I know I'll be playing outside 'backer. I'm not sure if I'lI be on the boundary or the field. I guess we'll figure that out, but I haven't really heard anything. I'm just gonna go in there with being open and being able to help where the team needs.

One of your fellow outside linebackers from the 2021 class, T.J. Bollers, was a midyear enrollee. Have you chatted with him and the other midyear enrollees about what their first semester was like at Wisconsin?

DP: Yeah, they enjoyed it. You know, they said it was different. The pace was the biggest thing they had to adjust to, but they said they enjoyed it. And T.J., and I will probably be roommates in the fall when school starts. So yeah, we're pretty close outside of not really seeing each other that much. They said the biggest difference was just the pace and how fast things go, but other than that, they said they had fun and they enjoyed it.

So when is the official move-in date for you coming up? I know you mentioned that you're rooming with T.J. coming up in fall, but are you rooming with anybody else in the summer then?

DP: In the summer, I'll be with [cornerback] Ricardo Hallman. I'll be there June 11.

I'm looking at your highlights on Hudl. Who do you mold yourself after or what moves are your strengths do you feel right now in getting after the passer?

DP: Yeah, I watch a lot Joey Bosa. Joey Bosa, we play I think a lot of the same as far as our stance, our get off, the moves we use. I watched him a lot, and before almost every game this past season, I was watching Joey Bosa Ohio State highlights, so I like Joey Bosa a lot. He's one of my favorite players.

But recently, I've been watching T.J. Watt. Coach April and I watched a lot of T.J. Watt this past summer during quarantine. So I fell in love with T.J. Just his game and how he goes from the two to the three-point to the four-point stance, he can just do everything. I kind of model my game after him.

What do you feel you could bring to Wisconsin's defense, and not just the defense, but also that outside linebackers room?

DP: Just a killer instinct, a work ethic that'll hopefully get everybody in the room better. Just trying to make everybody better, make myself better as well. Try to be a leader as well.

Out of that 2021 class, who are you most excited to see on the field?

DP: In our class? I don't know, everybody really, because everybody had aspirations and says what they want to do in our little group chats and stuff. So I'm just excited to see everybody, see everybody work and how the season plays out.

I remember if I'm not mistaken, you and Hunter Wohler and T.J. Bollers -- you guys all met at that Junior Day last year, right? 

DP: Yeah, last March.

How do you feel with everything just not having the official visits -- how have you seen the group of signees grow in relationships without even having really had an official visit to get to know each other and whatnot?

DP: It's really weird. We were just talking, I was talking to Hunter about that the other day. He was like, 'Man, I'm sick of texting everybody. I want to see everybody, hug somebody.' ... So it's been kind of weird, but I think it made us closer in a way because we feel like we're close already. We've never met each other so when we get around each other, I think it'll just make it that much better.

What are some of the areas that you think you'll see yourself improve in once you get up to Wisconsin?

DP: I'm gonna perfect the hell out of that two-point stance, man. That's my goal to get comfortable with that, because as you can see my highlights, I've been in the four-point stance all of high school, so it'll be a good change but I'm ready to perfect it. You know, just getting comfortable with the playbook. And you know, I've never had a playbook. So getting the playbook and getting some stuff from Coach April and Coach [Jim] Leonhard. Being able to perfect that and learn and learn how to learn a playbook because it's different for me as well so just stuff like that.

You don't have to get into specifics about the playbook, but what stands out about a college playbook right now compared to what you've gone through in high school?

DP: It's so detailed, and they expect me to know a lot more than just my position. It's gonna be like another school class for me, I think, so that'll be fun and exciting to learn. But I love football so I'm excited for it. I'm excited to learn it. But that's the biggest thing, just the complexity of it and how detailed it is I think.

What are your goals for your freshman year then?

DP: I want to be a starter. I want to play or just play, whether it be special teams. You know, if I get the nod for outside 'backer, I'd love that. But I have big aspirations and I want to play early, so that's the biggest thing for me.

Have they talked about to you about rotation or how you could work in as well in terms of how you can get yourself on the field on defense?

DP: They just say you get here, if you earn it, you'll be on the field. Coach April said he plays the best guys. So if I'm the best guy, I'll get the nod, but nothing's going to be handed to me and that's why I love it.