Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Conversation With Cory Peterson

By Trevor Terminie

Cory Peterson catches a pass in a game against Auburn. Photo courtesy of the Ole Miss Archives

Cory Peterson calls himself the “Forrest Gump” of Ole Miss, and while he may not be as well known as the character played by Tom Hanks, Peterson is still considered legendary in the Ole Miss community. His accomplishments as an Ole Miss football wide receiver from 1996 to 1999 have made him a very recognizable name in Oxford. Moreover, his character has turned him into a family man who takes pride in the relationships that Ole Miss has given him. 

“I call myself the Forrest Gump of Ole Miss because I returned punts, but the type of player I was, I just wanted to be consistent and wanted to play every play like it was my last,” Peterson said. “I played every play to make my team and my teammates proud.”

Peterson’s humorous charisma and hard-working mentality are aspects that every football coach looks for, and Peterson fit the picture perfectly.  

Peterson certainly did make his teammates proud throughout his career, as he is credited for many iconic plays for Ole Miss football in the late ‘90s. Whether it was the two-point conversion to beat cross-state rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl in ’97 or providing payback to his former coach Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers with an overtime touchdown catch in ’99, his accomplishments tell the story of one of the most famed careers for a wide receiver in Ole Miss football history. Making his teammates proud in these and many other occasions has allowed Peterson to stay in close contact with many of them. 

“Those memories that you have with your teammates, from good times and bad, never leave,” Peterson said. “I still am in touch with Deuce [McAllister] and Romaro Miller.  Romaro, my quarterback, has a State Farm agency in Olive Branch, and I am one of his clients. I always give him a hard time, saying ‘How come you’re not driving me around like Aaron Rodgers’s [State Farm] agents in his commercials?’” 

The bond of football teammates is something special and life-long, and Peterson appreciates the experiences he had being on a team and in the locker room with people that would band together to go to war for the same goal. 

“When you’re in that locker room and the doors are closed, it’s about every single teammate in there, and it’s about us,” Peterson said. “Everything outside of that locker room is just noise. We care for one another. Going through everything we went through,  we can defeat anything.”

Peterson’s teammates have not been the only ones that have made an important impact. The Ole Miss community provided him the avenue to build a loving family of his own. 

“In terms of my wife [Layde], she knows nothing about football,” Peterson said. “She  had a 4.0 [GPA] and a scholarship and I was on the opposite end of the spectrum.”  “She is a pretty blonde with an incredible heart, and I’m very blessed that she married  me.” 

Peterson and his wife have been blessed to have two children, a 13-year-old son and a  nine-year-old daughter, who are entrenched in the Ole Miss spirit. 

“We named our son Cole, and I love saying that if he does play at Ole Miss, we can yell out ‘Go Cole Miss’,” Peterson said jokingly. “Everything is about Ole Miss. My son has had the chance to meet D.K. [Metcalf] and A.J. [Brown] (both former Ole Miss wide receivers).” 

Peterson would love to see his children become passionate about Ole Miss football and its traditions, but he hopes they can find the things they enjoy most and continue on with those interests.

“[Cole] is incredibly smart like his mom, and if [football] is something he wants to do, he can do it,” Peterson said. “Whatever he wants to do, he will do. Hannah Grace, my  daughter, will probably be some kind of social media influencer.” 

Cory Peterson’s Forrest Gump story perfectly encapsulates the Ole Miss image and encompasses everything the Ole Miss atmosphere provides. People all over the world can tell Forrest Gump’s story, but Peterson does not need a movie to live and represent the Ole Miss spirit.