Ex-Gator Mike Peterson, waiting to see if NFL calls, works for UF as undergraduate assistant

Mike Peterson is home again.

After 13 seasons playing linebacker in the NFL, Peterson is back at Florida to get his degree and launch a career in coaching. He will work with the Gators as an undergraduate student assistant on coach Will Muschamp’s staff while finishing a degree in sociology.

“The whole time, I wanted to get back in coaching,” he said. “It’s something I had thought about, but never took the initiative. I went and spoke to Coach Muschamp about it and he was very receptive. I knew it would be a place I could definitely fit in.”

Peterson has only worked with the players since the start of training camp earlier this month, but Muschamp already sees it paying off for UF.

“He has been great for our players,” Muschamp said. “He’s got a huge future in this profession.”

Peterson was a star at nearby Santa Fe High School before playing for the Gators from 1995 through ’98. He helped Florida win the 1996 national championship.

The Indianapolis Colts took him in the second round of the 1999 draft, and he spent four seasons there before going to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played six years for the Jaguars and was with the Atlanta Falcons from 2009 through last season.

Peterson, 37, has not officially retired from the NFL and would listen if a team called him in the near future, but is planning to spend the upcoming season with the Gators.

“I’ve got a commitment to the team here, so the longer this process goes on, it’s going to be harder for me to go back,” he said. “I think within the next couple weeks or so, I will definitely make an announcement.”

The Gators also have former quarterback Chris Leak and defensive end Duke Lemmens working with the team as graduate assistants.

Open practices: Florida will allow fans and media to view four practices this month, beginning with Thursday's session at the Dizney Lacrosse Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

The Gators also will hold open practices Saturday (9:05 a.m.) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Monday (7:45 a.m.) at the practice facility and Tuesday (9:35 a.m.) at the stadium.