'Future of Hendrix football can only be bright'

by Levi Gilbert

Hendrix capped its first football season in 53 years this past November, and the program is building from the ground up around local talent like Greenbrier product Seth Peters.

The true freshman started at quarterback for the Warriors, completing 71.9 percent of his passes for 1,471 yards, 17 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in only five games.

“Seth is a tremendous athlete,” said Buck Buchanan, Hendrix head coach. “He has a natural throwing motion and release. He is calm in the pocket and has an understanding of defenses better than most freshmen I have ever been around. He also has great explosion and is one of the fastest players in the program.”

Unfortunately for Peters, his season was cut short by a knee injury in the fifth game.

“I have been doing rehabilitation since the injury occurred,” Peters said. “I am close to being 100 percent. If we had been in any kind of post-season games, I would have been able to play. I will be back and better than ever next fall.”

According to Buchanan, the injury halted what was primed to be a remarkable season for the freshman.

“It is unfortunate that he was injured early in the year, but after four games he was leading the country in passing touchdowns,” Buchanan said. “He would have made a great case to be one of the best freshmen in the country, and he caught the eye of every coach in our league without even playing in five of our conference games.

“We are fortunate that we had a great second team guy that we moved from receiver (Tanner Frye) who was voted Second Team All Southern Athletic Association.”

Peters led the Warriors to a 2-2 record before the injury, and even in a shortened season, the freshman made more than a few memories.

“My favorite memory from the inaugural season at Hendrix was being a part of the first touchdown in 53 years,” Peters said. “I dropped back waiting for the inevitable. Travus McMahon beats his guy and breaks open. I threw the ball towards the back of the end zone, and Travus made a great catch for the touchdown.”

In high school, Peters played receiver for the Greenbrier Panthers until his senior season when he moved to quarterback. In his last hurrah in high school, Peters led the Panthers to a perfect regular season and a 5A West crown.

“It is a blessing to have local players in our program,” Buchanan said. “We obviously never want to overlook great student athletes that are in our own backyard. It has been great to have three solid Faulkner County guys in the program this year: Seth, Reid Cone and Jake Steward. Seth and Reid are from Greenbrier, and Jake is from Vilonia.

“Seth also was trained well at Greenbrier both academically and athletically. I think it is a tribute to their school, staff and coaches. I have to give a lot of credit to Seth’s family, Randy Tribble (head coach at Greenbrier) and Todd Langrel (offensive coordinator at Greenbrier). Seth came almost ready-made, and we owe that to other people. We are very fortunate that a lot of what we do is what Seth has done as a receiver and quarterback through high school.”

And luckily for Buchanan and the Warriors, the local talent has brought more than just raw talent to the program.

“I think it helps draw more people from the community to our games on Saturday,” Buchanan said. “I also think it is a huge positive for Hendrix College because these three guys are tremendous students that had a strong desire to continue to play college football, and they would not be at Hendrix without football being here.

“Before that draws criticism, I would like to qualify that statement, there isn’t anyone in our program that doesn’t value education first. We are just reaching a group of individuals that want to continue to pursue their extra-curricular interests.”

Football was certainly a big draw for Peters, but it was far from the only hook that caught him.

“One of the most attractive perks of Hendrix College was the incredible academic standards,” Peters said. “I was originally interested in Hendrix due to the fact that this school produces the majority of the doctors in the state of Arkansas. This is very appealing to a guy like me that is interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

“When I found out that Hendrix was starting a football team, it was like icing on the cake. To be able to start a program and write your own history is something truly unique to my experience.”

Peters is studying biochemistry and molecular biology to prepare for medical school requirements.

“I think he could be a poster boy for being a pre-med athlete,” Buchanan said. “Seth is also a very cerebral person, and he is always identifying and processing information. He can take a look at something and have an understanding before even studying it. That is an ability that goes overlooked. We are a multiple spread offense that we constantly adapt and evolve based on what we need to do to be successful. This puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and if we did not have the guys we have we would be really limiting what we could do on offense.

“We basically ask the quarterback to be the CPU, and everything is based on conditional statements, ‘if-then’ scenarios. It is nice to have guys at every position that have the intellectual ability to see it like we as coaches do. That is a blessing about being at an academic institution and one primary reason we achieved early success and were competitive in our first y

The Warriors finished 2013 with a 3-7 overall record, 1-5 in Southern Athletic Association play.

“Being able to be a part of the team that brings football back to Hendrix is something that I’ll never forget,” Peters said. “Starting a program enables you to set the foundation for future years to come. We are setting the bar very high for classes coming in. We expect all of our players to achieve in the classroom as well as on the field. We expect to win a lot of ball games in the next three years, but we also expect to see every one of our guys walk across the stage with a degree.

“The future of Hendrix football can only be bright. Our guys are going to get better and better every year with each offseason. I expect us to win a championship before we graduate.”