A young man from the Sunshine State has Winter Olympics dreams.
Florida fifth-year senior fullback Scott Peek, a third-generation Gators legacy, will play his final game for the orange and blue on Jan. 2 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
This spring, he may begin training with the US Bobsled Team. It’s a dream he pursued this past year before opting to finish out his football career at Florida.
“I went to one of the combines for the US Bobsled Team in the offseason and I did really well actually,” Peek said. “They invited people up there for training in September, but I wasn’t able to go obviously because of football season.
“I’m hoping to get back in touch with those coaches and hopefully get a shot to go back up there to train and see if I may be able to make that team.”
Since this interview, Peek has been in touch with the coaches and has been invited again to train in Lake Placid, N.Y., according to his sister, Ali Peek Wilbur. Scott Peek said he first heard about bobsledding from a friend.
“One of my buddies that I played high school football with started doing it,” Peek said. “When I was back home doing an internship he said he thought I may be interested in it, so he said I should give it a try.
“I did pretty well at the combines, so I’m interested to see how that goes again.”
Peek, a 6-foot-2, 241-pounder from Tampa, Fla., takes a lot of pride in playing football. He spent most of his career at linebacker before moving to fullback during spring practices.
“I was really happy with the change,” Peek said. “I love coach (Brian) White and coach (Brent) Pease. They’ve been helpful the entire way.”
On Senior Day against Jacksonville State on Nov. 17, Peek was thrust into action after an injury to starting fullback Hunter Joyer early in the game. So in his final game on Florida Field, Peek saw more snaps than in all of his previous games combined.
Peek estimated some 15-20 family members and friends were in the stands for the game, which the Gators won 23-0.
“You never want to see anybody get hurt, but I was happy to be able to go out there and play as much as I did,” Peek said. “It was really a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it. It was a perfect way to end my last home game in The Swamp.”
During his first three seasons, Peek only played in two games. He made both of his two career tackles in his debut against Appalachian State in 2010. This season, he didn’t record a rushing attempt but played in six games. He was named the team’s special teams player of the week after a 37-26 win at Florida State in the regular season finale.
Peek borrowed a quote from one of his favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to sum up his college experience.
“It was pretty crazy. It seems like it flew by but it was the best experience of my life,” Peek said. “Ferris Bueller was right. If you don’t stop to take a second to look around a every once in a while, it’s going to pass you by. And that couldn’t be more true.
“I wish I would have taken a second to kind of step back and just kind of let it sink in a little bit more going through things.”
One thing that has sunken in is the experience being on this year’s team, which finished the regular season 11-1. For Peek, it was even more special than suiting up for the 2008 National Championship team as a freshman.
“The National Championship game was a really special moment but I just kind of felt like I was on the outside,” Peek said. “The older guys on the team weren’t close with the younger guys on the team. It wasn’t like it is now.
“As special as it was being a part of the National Championship team, I feel like this was better than that season.”
Just being on any Gators’ team has been special for Peek. He played a wide variety of positions at Freedom High School, but missed his senior season with a broken shoulder after going “shoulder first into a landing strip of concrete on the long-jump pit” in a preseason game.
When that happened, Peek figured his dreams of following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps at Florida. He arrived as a walk-on but ended up earning a scholarship before last season.
“I just never thought my dream was really going to be able to come true,” Peek said. “Luckily, one of the coaches and a couple of others were able to help me out and get a preferred walk-on spot (long pause) and it just happened to end up being the best experience of my life.”
If he decides to train for the bobsled team, it could lead to another once-in-a-lifetime experience. Interestingly enough, if Peek makes the team, he won’t be the first former UF athlete to do so. Former Gators decathlete Steve Mesler helped win the US Bobsled Team a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.