College Football: Livingstone's Peoples realizing his potential
By Nick Bowton
Livingstone wide receiver Chris Peoples noticed a couple of weeks ago when coach Lamonte Massie mentioned that Peoples still had a ways to go to live up to his potential.
Peoples, Massie said at the time, had the tools to be the best receiver in the CIAA. He didn’t, however, display them on a consistent basis.
After catching four passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in a victory against rival Johnson C. Smith, both player and coach agree Peoples is headed in the right direction.
“My quarterback, he has a lot more confidence in me right now,” said Peoples, a former football and basketball player at Mooresville High. “My consistency catching the football and my route-running is getting a lot better. I’m getting separation from the defensive backs, and that’s what’s getting me open.”
At his weekly press conference Wednesday, Massie singled out one particular play to highlight Peoples’ development.
With Livingstone leading 19-12 on Saturday, Peoples noticed he had a safety/linebacker covering him and, as Massie put it, “begged” for the ball. The Blue Bears looked to Peoples, and he turned a slant route into a 39-yard touchdown and a 26-12 lead midway through the third quarter.
“He could be the best wide receiver in the conference, but I don’t think he believes me when I say that,” Massie said. “I’m looking at this guy, and I’m saying, ‘Size, durability, catching ability.’ It’s getting better because each week he’s getting more consistent.
“I think every ball that was thrown to him that was a catchable ball was caught.”
Just a few years ago, Peoples wasn’t sure whether he’d be catching passes beyond Mooresville.
Peoples considered basketball his main sport in high school and played football just so he had something to do until basketball started. After a year off after high school, he decided to give football a shot at Livingstone.
“I really didn’t know about college,” said Peoples, who ranks third in the CIAA with 20.4 yards per catch. “I wasn’t the strongest, wasn’t the fastest coming out of high school. But I felt like I owed myself a shot to at least try it at the college level. I’m really loving football right now.”