SEATTLE — Washington coach Chris Petersen dismissed standout cornerback Marcus Peters from the program on Thursday, just two days before the Huskies face No. 18 UCLA.
Peters’ dismissal was confirmed in a statement from the school. Petersen later spoke after the Huskies’ morning practice, saying, “I don’t think anybody on either side was happy with the whole situation.”
Peters was the only upperclassman starter in Washington’s young secondary, which will now have two true freshmen starting at cornerback Saturday against the Bruins.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got certain standards and operating procedures,” Petersen said. “We’re trying to do something special here. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Like I said, we wish him the best. It’s always a hard thing — worst part of the job, without question. And with all that being said, that’s really it. That’s it in a nutshell. I know everybody wants the details and other things — we don’t go there; we can’t go there. But like I said, we wish him the best, and it’s hard and painful.”
Peters’ dismissal was first reported by The Seattle Times and KJR-AM.
Peters is considered a top NFL prospect because of his size — 6-foot, 190 pounds — and his coverage ability. But he’s had run-ins with Petersen and the Huskies coaching staff throughout the season. Peters was suspended for Washington’s win against Illinois because of a sideline outburst the previous week. Peters also did not start against Stanford, but was in on Washington’s second defensive series.
Peters was told of his dismissal on Wednesday night. The school said it would continue to provide Peters’ scholarship through the completion of his education.
With Peters gone, Washington will start freshmen Sidney Jones and Naijiel Hale at cornerback against the Bruins with freshman Budda Baker and sophomore Kevin King at safeties. Washington has been experimenting with wide receiver John Ross at cornerback.
“It’s never one thing. We’re not going to dismiss a guy because it’s one thing,” Petersen said. “That’s not what we’re in this business [to be] about. But when you feel like it just can’t work, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Peters is the eighth player to be suspended or dismissed since Petersen took over the Huskies program last December. The most noteworthy was the suspension of quarterback Cyler Miles during spring practice for his involvement in a Super Bowl night altercation last February. Miles was reinstated following spring practice but was suspended for the season opener at Hawaii.
Peters led Washington with three interceptions and was a stabilizing part of the Huskies’ inexperienced defensive backfield. He was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection last season as a sophomore and was regarded by many NFL draft experts as a first-round pick should he enter the draft next spring.
It almost seems a certainty now that Peters will enter the draft, but will now be tasked with proving he can avoid being a problem. Petersen said he would give Peters a positive recommendation.
“Marcus’s got a lot of skill. I really do hope that he has a really good NFL career, there’s no doubt about that. And I think he can and we wish him a lot of luck going in that direction,” Petersen said.