A guy who can run a sub 4.3 forty yard dash on a bad day, Peter Guerriero is one of these players who got overlooked coming out of high school for not being big enough. It happens all of the time when we see kids come out of high school and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them to rise into star players. Guerriero was the star player at Monmouth, and for good reason too.
Guerriero ran for 1995 yards last season and scored 20 touchdowns while averaging 142.5 yards per game. The cool thing about that is Peter almost didn’t play football at Monmouth. Here’s his story:
Prospect Interview: RB Peter Guerriero, Monmouth
Draft Rite (John Vogel): So, Peter, you were at Monmouth, you declared early, you had another year of eligibility that you, you know, declined to enter the NFL Draft, so it’s an interesting situation because you don’t see it too often with FCS players coming out. So, can you tell me a little bit about how you got to Monmouth and your experience there?
Peter Guerriero: Okay, yeah, so, I originally got to Monmouth on a track scholarship. I came in my freshman year and I wasn’t even on the football team. So I strictly went to Monmouth to run track. I kind of was under-recruited in high school because I was a smaller, smaller guy. I was probably like 5’8″ and 160 at most. So I was really under-recruited. I decided to go to Monmouth on a track scholarship. When I get to Monmouth, I end up doing pretty well indoor, but then I end up winning the 100 and the 200 for the outdoor conference championship.
The 100 Meter Dash at Monmouth and moving to the football team
Draft Rite: Yeah, I saw that. A 10.65 100 meter dash?
Draft Rite: (Whistles)
Guerriero: Actually, the funny story about that day was I actually had hurt my hamstring earlier in the week so I was kind of running on a bad hamstring too.
Draft Rite: No joke?
Guerriero: Yeah. Yeah, it was a crazy story. Crazy story. After the race, I ran over to the trainer’s table, like, yeah I was hurting real bad. It was all worth it. Throughout that freshman year I kind of knew as soon as I got to college and I was running track that football was what I wanted to be doing, so I just kind of talked to my high school coach. I was actually going to transfer back home and just go to a Division III school, but then before I did that he kind of just stopped me and told me to go into the football coaches’ office and ask if I can join the team. So I spoke to my track coaches first and they said that they would handle that for me but they really didn’t. They really didn’t talk to them until I finally said to them that I was actually transferring. When I walked in and told them I was transferring, that’s when me and the track coach went over to the football coaches office and actually sat down and spoke to them. He pretty much just asked me what position I was wanting to play, and at the time they were losing three senior running backs but they still had three upperclassmen, so he was just like, “We have these three upperclassmen, we’re bringing in a couple of guys but if you want to play running back, you can. So then, that was pretty much when I just decided that I was going to stay. From there on out it was, you know, I had all summer to train, get back into football shape, and then I got in and from there on out I was playing football.
The experience was great. That first year, my sophomore year, that I played football, I actually got to do both. So I ran track and played football. So that was an awesome experience. It was fun because I went in, kind of like how the story is panning out right now, I went in as the underdog, you know, I was just a kid that ran track. I didn’t have any offers out of high school. By week two of camp, I ended up being the first-string running back, so. That’s something that I am proud of. From there on out, the experience was great, you know, I made a lot of friends that I’ll keep probably for the rest of my life. I loved playing football here, and yeah. Crazy, bro, crazy road.
Draft Rite: Sounds like it! Yeah, man. So basically, I found out about you when you declared. Because here, I was keeping a very detailed record of all of the guys that were coming out, that were declaring early, because I was putting them on a list and going “okay, this is who I’m going to have to watch as soon as, you know, the deadline rolls around. But then, you declared and I think found out about it three days after you declared. And I was like, Monmouth? Cause, like, I know where Monmouth is. My mom grew up in New Jersey so, you know, southern New Jersey, not northern, but still, so it was kind of like, “Wait a second. Why is he declaring early?” So it was like “I’m going to turn on the tape and see what I can find.” I saw you against, I think it was, Holy Cross and there was another one in the playoff rounds, I can’t remember who it was.
Guerriero: James Madison, maybe?
Talking about Peter Guerriero’s strengths
Draft RIte: Yes. Jame Madison. So, I’m like, man this guy is a game-changer. You’ve got speed for, like, ages, you’re one of these angle breaker kind of guys, I kind of wish you were going to the combine because I’d love to know what your forty time is.
Guerriero: Yeah, right?
Draft Rite: Outside of speed, what is your biggest strength that you’re going to bring to an NFL team do you think?
Guerriero: So, I wouldn’t even, like, I feel like just being fast is one thing, but I feel like my biggest strength that people are kind of undermining because I wasn’t asked to do it as much in college is really just running routes and catching the ball. Not just out of the backfield, but out of the slot as well or being motioned out of the backfield. Whatever the case may be. That’s something that I am really looking forward to at pro day because I have a lot of it set up where I’m running routes out of the slot position. I feel like, just in general, I’m of just an athlete that plays the running back position. You know, I feel like I have natural instincts when it comes to reading blocks or setting up blocks. But, what takes me to the next level is my athleticism, in the sense where I have no problem catching the ball. I have, you know, not just out of the backfield but just naturally catching the ball, running routes, I run pretty crisp routes right now and I’ve been working more. So just having that versatility is what’s going to set me apart.
Draft Rite: Awesome, hey, that reminds me. When I was watching you, it looked like you ran some sort of, you guys as in the Monmouth team, ran some sort of very non-traditional screen concepts. Can you take me through that a little bit? Is that something that they did because you were literally that fast? Or was that normal? Because, I didn’t see any Monmouth games before you were playing.
Non-Traditional screen concepts at Monmouth
Guerriero: Are we talking from when I was out wide or when I’m coming out of the backfield?
Draft Rite: I think you were out wide.
Guerriero: Okay. So then, yeah. It was pretty much just a speed thing. So, they would, depending on what teams do, it was just we played our match-ups one-on-one with the safety. So if I was out wide, we would have just a tight end and a wide receiver out there with me, like a sort of bunch, and I would just run a quick smoke screen. The outside receiver would take the corner, and then the tight end would take the backer and it would just leave a one-on-one match-up with me and the safety.
Draft Rite: Okay, yeah. There was one where, I can’t remember where you were lined up, ’cause it’s been a little while since I saw it, but it was against Holy Cross, I believe the second quarter. It was some sort of screen, it looked almost like a tunnel screen. You pulled three guys and then you started out of the left side and came back to the right, and you took off down the sideline for a touchdown.
Guerriero: Ohhhhh. Okay. No. Yeah, so that was kind of like a screen set-up but more of like a shovel pass. What you’re talking about was like a sixty-yard run?
Draft Rite: Yeah, yeah yeah. That one.
Guerriero: So it was kind of like a shovel pass. So, like, I fake like we’re going to run an inside zone, and they pull people around and then he just steps up and shovel passes it to me on the outside.
Draft Rite: That’s where I realized how fast you were. On that particular play. You just took off down the sideline and I was like, “Whoa, wait a second.” It looked cool because it was a little bit different. It’s not something that you normally see.
Guerriero: Yeah. That’s pretty much all that it was designed to do. It was designed for me to just use my speed and get outside. That’s literally what the play was, so. I believe that might have even been to the short side of the field that time.
Self-reflection: Talking about Peter Guerriero’s weaknesses
Draft Rite: Yeah, yes it was. It was to the short side of the field. So what is your biggest weakness that you’re working on right now to hone for the Draft?
Guerriero: My power, probably. Since I am like a smaller running back, that’s going to be my biggest emphasis coming out. Well, it was just after the season and coming after pro day as well. My biggest emphasis is just getting more lower body strength, and lower body power to really just start running through tackles. That was something that I feel like I have lacked showing this year as much as I wanted to. It’s something that I feel is there, I just want to take it to that next level so that way I can be a full rounded back.
Draft Rite: I understand, I hear that. So, blocking. It’s kind of a big thing now in the NFL now with running backs, obviously. If you can run, that’s great. If you can catch, we like you. If you can block, we’re going to take you. So I thought you blocked pretty well at the FCS level from what I saw. I didn’t see many hiccups, in terms of you picking up the right guy or missing assignments or anything. And they seemed to like to use you to chip guys, especially while leaking out. I think on that screen/shovel pass that we were talking about, you did chip somebody and then catch the ball.
Guerriero: I do that a lot, yeah.
Draft Rite: Which I was like, wow! (laughs) So is blocking something that you are kind of comfortable with in terms of your technique and being able to take on bigger NFL linebackers?
Guerriero: Yeah, so definitely in my technique and knowing where I need to be is probably my two biggest strong suits in blocking. I think out of my three years playing football in college, I might have missed one blitz where it was my man and I just didn’t see him, and I think I remember exactly what team it was. But from there, I usually just set myself up in the proper position because really blocking, for me, it doesn’t matter how big you are or how strong you are. If you set your body up in the right position, you know what I’m saying? You can stand in front of somebody or you can stop somebody’s momentum from getting to the quarterback. So I feel like that’s something that it took some time to develop, but every single year that… Because in high school, I played quarterback, so from my first year playing football to this year, it developed a huge amount and that’s something that I’m still working, I still want to increase with. But, it’s something that I feel like was there, so now I really don’t know what to expect until, you know, we finally strap the pads back on again. I feel like it’s something that I’m confident going into.
“I usually just set myself up in the proper position because really blocking, for me, it doesn’t matter how big you are or how strong you are.”
Draft Rite: That’s awesome. So are you going to any of the, uh, like the national scouting combine after this or is it just a pro day and that’s it?
Guerriero: Yeah. just a pro day.
Draft Rite: Okay. I know that they have some regional combines and stuff so I wasn’t sure if you we’re going to any of them. I hadn’t seen anything about you going to one.
Guerriero: I’m hoping to get enough done at my pro day, so if I show up on a day, and I’m doing what I’m suppose to do, I should have a really, really good pro day.
Will Peter Guerriero play in the XFL to continue NFL dreams?
Draft Rite: Right, so, no disrespect with this question. Because I like you. I think you saw what I wrote about you. I like you as a mid-day-three guy, because you are from a smaller school and you are a smaller body, but I like what you bring and I love your speed. So if I were an NFL guy, I’d be looking at you as a fifth-sixth round. Now that’s the problem is I’m not an NFL guy. So don’t take this as me being disrespectful, but it’s a question that, you know, a lot of people will be wondering about. If you had to go take, let’s say a year, where you didn’t make the cut this year on an NFL roster, and you had to go take a year in the XFL, is that something that you would do to try and continue that shot at the NFL?
Guerriero: Yeah, a hundred percent. A hundred percent.
Draft Rite: Awesome.
Guerriero: You know, I’m kind of taking this as the same mindset that I brought into college when I started playing football. So, of course, that’s always there and want to do that, but I’m looking at this as I have no plan B. Just go into it and show, and just prove what I can do. You know what I mean?
Draft Rite: Yeah, I do.
Guerriero: So I feel like I’ve been put through this adversity before, just coming off of not having any scholarships. Just stepping onto the football field with a year off of playing, and playing again. So it’s just a matter of, you know, showing what I am capable of.
Draft Rite: I got you. Yeah I’ve asked some other prospects that and I think the very first time I asked that, the guy took it as I was saying he wasn’t good enough or something. And I was like “noo – dangit.” You know? And he got mad at me. I just didn’t want you to think I was disrespectful by saying, you know? Anyways. Hey man, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.
Guerriero: No problem.