Jay Peterson returns to Miami for his second term on the coaching staff, assuming the role of linebackers coach on Jan. 15. He held the same position from 1991-98 under the late Randy Walker. The Hopedale, Ohio, native has 26 years of coaching experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.
Peterson joins the RedHawks after two years at Illinois State, where he helped turn around a defensive unit that totaled just three interceptions and 11 quarterback sacks in 2008, ranking 115th of 118 teams in turnover margin (-1.36). The 2009 Redbird defense picked off 14 passes, the most since 2006, and registered 25 sacks. Much of that turnaround was due to a change in the linebacking corps, which had a pair of freshmen named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team.
Prior to coming to Illinois State, Peterson spent five years at Eastern Michigan, where he served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2004-08, while also holding the title of assistant head coach during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. In five seasons, the Eagle defense improved dramatically, from a high of 469.6 yards allowed per game in 2004 to a drop of almost 100 yards in 2006, at 388.3 yards per game.
Under Peterson's guidance, EMU linebacker Daniel Holtzclaw was named to the 2008 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list and the 2008 Rotary Lombardi Award preliminary watch list. Holtzclaw was also named a freshman All-American in 2005 and a first-team All-MAC selection in 2007.
From 1999-2003, Peterson coached at Northwestern, first overseeing the linebackers and special teams before moving to the defensive line for the last two seasons. In 2001, Northwestern's linebackers were rated among the best in the nation, with two players, Kevin Bentley and Billy Silva, both making the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list. He also coached Napoleon Harris, who was a first-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2002.
During his first stint at Miami, Peterson was in charge of linebackers and helped with the special teams. During that time, he coached several All-MAC linebackers, including two-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year JoJuan Armour. Armour was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. Another Peterson pupil, Dustin Cohen, was named third-team All-America by The Football News, along with Armour.
Peterson has also spent time coaching in the professional ranks, as he spent three summers in the NFL Minority Coaching Internship program, serving various roles with the Indianapolis Colts (1995), Detroit Lions (1997) and Chicago Bears (2001). He was also an assistant football coach at three high schools in the Cincinnati area: Cadiz (1985-87), Anderson (1988-89) and Withrow (1990) High Schools.
As a player, Peterson was a standout running back, earning four varsity letters from 1980-83. His career total of 2,874 rushing yards still ranks fifth on Miami's all-time career rushing list. He served as a co-captain as a senior and was a first-team All-MAC selection in 1982, a second-team pick in 1983 and an honorable mention choice in 1981.
Peterson earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1985. He and his wife, Freda, have a daughter, Jada.